Brains and brawn might go hand in hand, according to a study that links gym memberships to higher GPAs.
The study by Michigan State University provides support for the idea that the membership provided to UF students through activity and service fees in their tuition could be directly linked to academic success.
According to the study, which compared recreational sports facility members to nonmembers, members had significantly higher cumulative college GPA and cumulative credits completed after four consecutive semesters.
“In general, we are confident that students or people getting active, moving and exercising has an impact on their ability to learn,” said David Bowles, director of the department of recreational sports at UF.
“It’s not surprising that the students who are in the gym, who are exercising, and who are moving are then the ones who are more successful in their classes and getting better grades.”
The study supports the idea that providing students with easily available access to fitness will further academic success and have continued brain health benefits.
“It can improve oxygen flow and brain neurotransmitter firing,” said Natalie Rella, health promotion specialist at GatorWell. “Depending on the kind of physical activity you’re doing, you can actually grow your brain. It’s kind of amazing.”
Exercise can also help students be more successful by providing them with social benefits as well, Rella said.
“The social impact of physical activity, especially in a recreational sports setting, can also improve academic performance,” she said. “It’s getting that support system that can get you through those tough times.”
Jayla Bostic, a member of the UF Women’s Track & Field team who exercises six days a week, said she was not surprised by the findings of the survey.
“I think it makes sense, because I know when I work out that’s kind of a stress reliever, and when it is time for me to do my homework and study, I don’t feel like I have too much pent up,” said the 21-year-old health science senior with a 3.53 GPA.
Bowles said the findings of the study align with the RecSports vision of promoting a world in motion one Gator at a time.
“We want them to be the role models for their families and the people they work with and spreading that good word to wherever they go in the world,” Bowles said.
“The more people that are active, the better off we are going to be.”
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 7/24/2014 under the headline "Study shows gym membership could mean higher GPA"]