exercise for grades
July 11, 2014

Could Joining A Gym Help College Students Raise Their GPA?

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

College students looking to improve their grades might be better served putting down the textbooks and getting a little exercise, researchers from the Michigan State University Department of Kinesiology claim in a new study.

According to kinesiology and epidemiology professor James Pivarnik and doctoral student Samantha Danbert, students that were also members of the MSU campus recreational sports and fitness centers during their freshman and sophomore years had higher grade point averages (GPAs) than non-members.

The study authors also found that students who have active memberships in those exercise facilities tended to stay in school longer. In fact, their paper – which appears in the latest edition of the Recreational Sports Journal – reported a 3.5 percent increase in two-year retention rates among members.

“That could equate to about 1,575 people within a student population of 49,000 deciding to move on to a third year of school,” Pivarnik explained in a statement Thursday. “These results provide a compelling argument to universities that a higher student retention rate could be enhanced just by having adequate recreational and fitness facilities for students.”

Their findings support previous research which suggested that establishing an environment in which a student feels connected to the educational institution he or she attends (such as through the use of a recreational facility, as was the case in this study) can result in an increase in both academic success and retention.

Pivarnik, Danbert and their colleagues reviewed information obtained from 4,843 freshmen and sophomore students, and compared the GPAs of those who had purchased a membership at a fitness center with those that had not. Over the course of four consecutive semesters, the authors found that students with memberships obtained higher cumulative GPAs and had earned more credits by the end of their first year at the university.

“We found that these students’ cumulative GPAs were 0.13 points higher,” Pivarnik said. “Although this number may not appear to be significant, in the end, that amount could mean the difference to those students on the cusp of getting into graduate school or even advancing to the next academic year.”

He added that 74 percent of freshmen with memberships went on to successfully earn sophomore status, compared to just 60 percent in the nonmember group. Pivarnik said that the study’s conclusions are important “because not only are we retaining more students, but we’re retaining those that have higher GPAs which is good for everyone.”

In 2012, a Canadian study found that regular exercise was not a priority for college students. The authors recruited 683 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 and followed them for 12 years. They discovered an overall 24 percent decrease in physical activity from adolescence to early adulthood, and revealed that the declines were steepest among young men entering college or university for the first time.


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