May 29 (HealthDay News) -- As they get older, many adolescents become less physically active and are more likely to abandon the most vigorous kinds of activities, a new study finds.
Researchers asked secondary school students in Montreal about their participation in 29 physical activities over five years and found that 94 percent of the students took part in team activities when they were in grade 7, but that declined to 50 percent for girls and 69 percent for boys by the time they were finishing high school.
Yet, although many gave up participating in team sports, only 10 percent of the students abandoned their individual physical activities during that same period of time, the researchers found.
The study also found that the most popular physical activities in seventh grade -- including walking, running, and physical conditioning -- were most likely to be taken up again five years later by about half of the students. Walking was the only activity that girls continued to participate in at the same level throughout the study period.
The findings are in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Lead author Mathieu Belanger, research director at the New Brunswick Medical Training Centre, said habits formed during the teen years tend to continue into adulthood, and early adolescence seems the best time to introduce programs designed to encourage healthy activity levels.
SOURCE: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, news release, May 26, 2009