While students may feel getting involved on campus and maintaining an immaculate transcript is a near-impossible challenge at times, researchers at Michigan State have proposed a solution: start pounding the treadmill.
A recent study, led by MSU kinesiology professor James Pivarnik, suggests first-year students who held a gym membership completed more credits per semester, had GPAs that were 0.13 points higher than those who didn’t hold memberships, and had 3.5 percent higher retention rates after their first two years.
Though physiological benefits of exercise are well known, the mental and social benefits might provide more incentive to start breaking a sweat. Physical fitness is known to eliminate stress and anxiety, but working out in a gym among peers can give students a sense of self-assurance and motivation to better themselves in a way that has the potential to lead to greater success.
A congruent study done at Purdue found sufficient evidence to support the findings in the MSU study, but emphasized that achievement is also dependent on getting the appropriate amount of sleep as well as being engaged with peers. Working out with friends will make exercise seem like less of a chore and more of a habit.
Making time for daily exercise requires organization and time management, skills necessary for maximizing efficiency, and also provides routine to the seemingly unstructured life of a college student. While many universities including USF have already instilled health initiatives, the findings of this study might encourage more institutions to jump on the fitness bandwagon.
Among the academic advantages that proceed from a regular workout are higher retention rates, meaning students who exercise are more likely to stick around until the end, giving an institution more external credibility. As a result, tobacco-free campuses are expanding nationwide, campus recreation centers are developing programs that appeal to a variety of students, and walking and biking are encouraged on many campuses.
Academic performance is just one of many gains that result from daily exercise. According to fitness instructors at Champlain College, active students are less susceptible to illness, depression, hunger and cravings, all of which are commonly experienced by college students.
Whether you’re trying to fight the Freshman 15, tone up your abs or just get your heart pumping, there’s no downside to hitting the gym. So as the new semester commences, keep in mind that a few extra reps may mean the difference between an A and a B, and a mile on the treadmill could help you walk across the stage on time.
Brandon Shaik is a senior majoring in psychology.