GPAs may rise with gym visits. Here's how to get more students there.

Students who stay active perform better in school

Students who stay active perform better in school, according to research. 

For example, in a 2014 study from Michigan State University, researchers found that students with gym memberships:

  • Saw 74% sophomore retention, compared with 60% among non-members;
  • Held 0.13-point higher GPAs than their peers; and
  • Had 3.5% higher two-year retention rate than their peers.

A similar study at Purdue University found that freshmen who visited the gym frequently had GPAs that averaged 0.27 points higher than their peers—3.08 versus 2.81, respectively.

Finally, a 2016 study of 20,000 students from North Carolina State University found that those who increased their weekly physical activities by one hour were almost 50% more likely to graduate or return the following year. On top of that, each additional hour of exercise correlated to 0.06 more GPA points.

So how can schools motivate students to hit the gym?

Consider putting it in close proximity to students' residence halls, to start.

According to a new report from Dstillery, the distance gym-goers must travel to work out directly correlates to how often they hit the gym.

To compile the report, Dstillery looked at anonymous information from 7.5 million mobile devices that gym-goers brought with them to a number of prominent fitness studios from mid-February to mid-March.

According to the report, gym members who consistently hit the gym travel an average of four miles to get there. When you bump that distance up to five or more miles, the gym-going frequency drops to only once per month, the study found.

These numbers varied slightly for the pricier, boutique fitness studies the study considered, like SoulCycle and The Barre Code—for these types of fitness classes, frequent goers were willing to travel an average of 5.5 miles and 6 miles, respectively. 

Some ideas for revamping your fitness center

A similar study by Julian Reed, a professor of health sciences at Furman University, shows this phenomenon proves especially true for students. Reed studied the habits of college freshmen who lived closer to the schools' workout facilities and compared them with juniors and seniors who lived farther away.

Reed found that the freshmen exercised 33% more often than the juniors and seniors. According to Reed, even a few thousand feet can make a big difference for student gym-goers.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Rachel Bachman points out that "a nearby gym isn't a cure-all," and that even people with in-home gyms often fail to exercise. But in an age where the average commute time is nearing a full hour in urban environments, visits to the gym can be the first thing to go when it's not convenient  (Bachman, Wall Street Journal, 3/21; Romm, New York Magazine, 3/23).

Guide your students to the gym—and the other resources they need to be successful


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How much ROI do two-year students really see? That depends on their majors

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