By SARAH CORNETT – EDITOR-IN -CHIEF
For all of those students looking to raise their GPA this semester, the answer may not be found in the library, but in the gym.
Physical activity has been linked to higher brainpower, but until recently there has been little scientific evidence to support that theory.
Now with the publication of two studies by Purdue University and Michigan State University, scientist may finally have the appropriate data to make these claims.
Together, both sets of data support previous theories that by creating an environment that connects users to an institution like a college gymnasium, an increase in academic success is likely to occur.
In other words, on average, students who use the gym more frequently had higher GPAs than the students who did not.
“Recent data continues to show a positive relationship between grades and visits to Purdue’s France A. Cordova Recreational Sports Center,” Assistant Director of Student Development at Purdue University Melissa Blackburn said. “Data collected from spring 2014 showed that full-time, undergraduate students who visited an average of 16 times a month earned a 3.20 average GPA compared to non-users who earned a 3.10 average GPA.”
Additionally, Blackburn stated that this trend was even more noticeable among first-year students.
“Students completing their first semester at Purdue during fall 2013 that utilized the Sports Center 15 or more times during the semester held a 3.08 GPA compared to a 2.81 GPA for those who did not utilize the facility,” Blackburn said.
For Michigan State University, the data supported a higher average GPA, as well as a higher retention rate for students.
According to this study of 4,843 students, those that attended the gym regularly had a cumulative GPA 0.13 points higher than those students who did not visit the gym. These physically active students also demonstrated an increase of 3.5 percent in two-year retention rates at Michigan State.
“The results of this study are important because not only are we retaining more students, but we’re retaining those that have higher GPAs which is good for everyone,” Professor of Kinesiology and Epidemiology at Michigan State University James Pivarnik said.
The outcomes of these studies rely on the notion that exercise targets positive chemicals in the brain that can lead to an enhanced mood, improved memory, and an growth in productivity.
When an individual exercises for a significant amount of time, the body releases high amounts of endorphins and serotonin.
The released endorphins advance the prioritizing function of the brain. After exercise then, it is easier to block out distractions and concentrate on the day ahead.
The accompanying serotonin that the body produces has a direct correlation to heightened mood as well. Together with endorphins, serotonin has been shown to help alleviate the common symptoms of depression.
If an inflated ability to prioritize and a happier mood weren’t enough, exercise can also leave the individual with improved energy levels and focus.
One of the common excuses to avoid the gym is exhaustion, but putting a few extra hours at the gym can actually expand your energy levels. The more you move, the more energized your body will actually feel.
Through regular physical activity, one’s muscle strength is raised and endurance is boosted. Together, this gives the body the energy to think clearer, come up with new ideas, and produce more energy on the cellular level.
Also according to Dr. John Ratey author of “Spark–The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” exercise elevates the brain’s reaction time in the short term by raising focus for two or three hours afterwards. In the long term, this can even help starve off negative brain aging and Alzheimer’s.
These impacts start on the cellular level through neuroplasticity, which is the improvement of the brain by increased levels of blood flow.
Finding time to hit the gym may be difficult, but now there are even more reasons to motivate you.