01/10/2011 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Is The Senior 17 The New Freshman 15?

According to a new study discussed at the American Public Health Association’s 2010 meeting, college seniors are significantly less active than freshmen, leading researchers to conclude that students see more weight gain in their later years of college as compared to the primary years.

Researchers used an online survey to question 1,672 Indiana University students about their physical activity habits and found that while freshmen spent an average of 16.5 weeks engaged in some type of exercise, seniors spent only 12. Specifically, seniors spent less time walking (and more time sitting) than their younger counterparts. This sedentary lifestyle caused students to graduate heavier and with higher BMIs.

My Health News Daily reports seniors might forgo exercise due to increased stress levels -– and that, although it may be difficult, this is a period in which young adults must establish healthy living patterns.

Did you gain weight in your last years of college? Share your experience in the comments section.