During my freshman year of college, I struggled with my weight and in my second semester, my grades. I had mastered my academics in high school, but did not realize how much more time, organization and planning college would require.
I pulled through academically but the weight stuck around, so I knew I needed to put some more focus on my personal health.
In my sophomore year, I decided to take advantage of the free on-campus aerobics classes as well as pay to join the on-site fitness center. I was pleasantly surprised by how my efforts in the gym translated to better study habits and ultimately better grades.
It turns out that the experience of both my increased fitness and academic adventures happening simultaneously during the early '90s are supported by a recent study out of Michigan State University.
“New research shows that students who were members of the recreational sports and fitness centers during their freshman and sophomore years had higher GPAs than those who weren't. The research also indicated that students with memberships stayed in school longer, ” an article on ScienceDaily.com reported.
The study was conducted by the Department of Kinesiology, and was recently featured in the Recreational Sports Journal.
An increase of 3.5 percent in two-year retention rates was seen among this group. While this percentage may seem a bit low initially, study leader James Pivarnik equated that to more than 1500 students for a student population the size of Michigan State. That is a significant part of the student body that remained enrolled and could continue on past their sophomore year.
My professional fitness opinion is that by giving students a designated place on campus to do something good for themselves, you create a healthy sense of community.
“The research supports previous theories suggesting that by creating an environment that connects students to an institution, in this case a university recreational facility, an increase in academic success and retention can occur,” Pivarnik was reported as saying.