Exercising Increases Grades, GPA | Children's Health Blog

Date: 07/29/2014    Written by: Beth Levine

Gym Goers Earn Higher GPAs

Exercising Increases Grades, GPA | Children's Health Blog

College students try many things to improve their grades. Some pull all nighters before exams, others spend countless hours in the library or with study groups. A segment of students even take ADHD drugs such as Adderall in a misguided attempt to boost their brain power. But now new research suggests that academic prowess may be enhanced simply by doing something we should all be doing anyway--exercising.

The study, which took place at Michigan State University in East Lansing, found that those students who are members of a campus fitness center tend to have higher grade point averages than their peers who are not belong to such a facility.1 The subjects were 4,843 freshmen and sophomores enrolled at Michigan State. They were divided into two groups: those who belonged to the gym at the school and those who did not belong there. Their grades were analyzed, and the researchers determined that those who were recreation center members had cumulative GPAs 0.13 points above their nonmember counterparts.

Plus, there were additional benefits determined to go hand in hand with belonging to the fitness center, aside from the better grades. Gym goers were shown to complete a greater number of credits by the time they were finishing freshman year and they were more likely to remain in school longer, curbing the rate of dropping out or transferring elsewhere by 3.5 percent. While the difference in GPA is only 0.13 points, this may be just enough of a bump to help a student to graduate with a cum laude distinction, get accepted to a more competitive graduate school program, or, for those struggling a little more, to remain off academic probation. Also, completing more credits and preventing a school transfer can both help kids earn their degree on time or even early--a major financial boon since college is so expensive. So it would appear that joining the campus fitness center can give students a leg up on numerous levels.

It makes sense that a regular exercise program would potentially improve grades, as a 2010 study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that even doing moderate aerobic exercise gives the brain a cognitive boost.2 In addition, there are the wonderful health benefits of daily workouts that include weight control (helping you avoid gaining the freshman 15 after all those keg parties and late night pizzas),3 disease prevention, and stress relief. After all, writing papers and cramming for exams can certainly put pressure on a college student, and working out has been demonstrated in numerous studies to lower stress levels.

Therefore, it might be worthwhile when considering the myriad of factors that go into deciding on which university to attend to include in the deliberation whether there is a fitness facility on or conveniently close to campus. If it is not easily accessible, chances are good that students will not take advantage of a gym. And it may well be a smart move for universities to incorporate, if they do not do so already, an exercise center onto the campus itself, as it seems the school could reap the benefits of retaining a higher percentage of students…not to mention the added bonus of some extra revenue derived from paid memberships.

And, while joining a gym is a great way to get motivated to exercise, students should remember that the benefits to both mind and body come from working out every day, which certainly does not have to take place in a fitness center. Running, biking, walking, and similar pursuits are all wonderful cardiovascular activities that do not require a membership at any facility. Small sets of free weights and resistance bands do not take up much space and toning exercises can be performed indoors or out. The important point is that if you are active every day, you will find the rewards accumulate pretty quickly.

  • 1. Friend, Nina. "If You Want a Higher GPA, Study Shows You Should Join a Gym." Huffington Post. 11 July 2014. Accessed 20 July 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/11/gym-higher-gpa-msu-study_n_5575054.html
  • 2. Yates, Diana. "Attention, couch potatoes! Walking boosts brain connectivity, function." University of Illinois. 26 August 2010. Accessed 21 July 2014. http://news.illinois.edu/news/10/0826walk.html.
  • 3. Jennifer Warner. "Freshman 15: College Weight Gain Is Real."  WebMD News Archive. July 28, 2009. (Accessed 22 Jul 2014.) http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20090728/freshman-15-college-weight-gain-is-real

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