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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Higher GPAs May Come From Hitting The Gym, Study Says

Using your college’s gym might boost both your GPA and the chances you’ll stick around until you graduate, according to a new Michigan State University study published in the current Recreational Sports Journal.

Led by James Pivarnik, professor of kinesiology and epidemiology at MSU, and MSU doctoral student Samantha Danbert, the 2010 study included 4,843 freshmen, 1,138 of whom purchased memberships to the school’s gym in their first semester. Not only were their cumulative GPAs 0.13 points higher than those who didn’t have memberships, but they also had a 3.5% higher retention rate and completed more credits through four semesters.

So are the results a credit to the benefits of working out, or does this say something about being involved in school?

Pivarnik thinks it’s both.

“There is clear evidence that physical activity can reduce stress and anxiety, which many students suffer throughout the semester. So that would be a direct benefit of working out,” he says. “But also, if working out in an organized setting with peers gives an increased sense of belonging to a group, in this case, the university, then that could also motivate one to perform better.”

Amy Ebbing, a December 2013 graduate of MSU who was part of the study as a gym member, says that working out could likely be a factor in having a higher GPA.

“I feel that students who have a gym membership and take time to work out typically have a more organized schedule, since having more activities requires good time management,” she says. “Having good time management is critical to being successful in the classroom, perhaps leading to a higher GPA.”

Ebbing also says that school involvement is very important and can increase the chances of college success.

She was an active member of a sorority and involved in the Human Energy Research Laboratory, which not only kept her busy and gave her social interaction, but also “made [her] happy and feel confident.”

“Being a part of these activities, going to the gym and attending class forced me to manage my time carefully, making sure I had ample time to work on coursework and study for exams,” she says.

While students are happy with higher GPAs, colleges are happy with higher retention rates. And according to this study, one way to keep students around might be to have them hitting the school’s gym.

“The 3.5% translated into over 400 students, so that is quite a bit of investment by all involved that will not finish at MSU,” says Pivarnik. “So the university would be very happy to increase retention rate by any amount.”

Promoting and increasing health around campuses is an ongoing movement, and one change several universities are making is that they’re becoming tobacco-free. There are about 431 colleges and universities across the country that are 100% tobacco-free, according to the American Lung Association.

Pivarnik says it’s extremely important for colleges to provide and promote a healthy campus.

“The MSU provost has the ‘healthy campus’ as one of her agenda items,” he says. “Obviously more to it than simply working out, but that is a piece of the puzzle.”

Courtesy: USA Today

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