structured exercise — playing sports or taking physical education classes.
And for many, that stops once they go to college.
Plus, Yli-Piipari says, college freshmen have a lot of “competing interests,” including hitting the books. Past studies have found that students at more academically rigorous universities tend to gain more weight.
In this study, some students did remain more active than others. Those who used campus recreational facilities, which offer options like fitness classes and club sports, typically got more vigorous exercise.
The same was true of freshmen whose friends were active — which is not surprising since it does take motivation to regularly exercise at that level, Yli-Piipari notes.
He said giving college students more options for group exercise, which can help sustain motivation, might help.
The findings — recently published in Journal of American College Health — are based on 166 UGA freshmen who were surveyed at the beginning and end of their first semester in 2019.
Some past research, Yli-Piipari shares, has suggested that living on campus and having a meal plan — and 24/7 access to food — can fuel weight gain.
Contrary to that, his team found no connection between on-campus living or meal-plan status and students’ weight gain.
That does not negate the importance of diet, however.
The survey did not dig into students’ eating habits. Nor did it ask about