Jay D. Tarnow, MD

Often times, parents and caretakers believe that their children, adolescents, or young adults are spending too much time on leisure activities and less on study time. They buy flashcards, join enrichment classes, and attend tutorials with the hopes of improving their grades.  Some college students even begin to stop exercising, biking, swimming, or engaging in outdoor and physical activities that they normally did until they entered college. While this may open up some more time in one’s daily schedule or increase study time, it is important to understand that exercise may actually be linked with better grades!

According to a recent report presented at the American College of Sports Medicines’ 57th annual meeting, college students who exercise vigorously on a regular level have higher G.P.A.’s than those who did not. This report is based on a highly controlled and systematic research study at the Saginaw State University in Michigan that controlled for the number of factors that might influence a student’s G.P.A. Results indicated that students who exercised 7 days a week on an average scored 0.4 points higher on a 4.0 scale than those did not.

An earlier study published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise also found that the more hours a student spends studying, the greater is the likelihood of them exercising. It was also found that students with G.P.A’s of 3.5 or higher were three times more likely to participate in vigorous physical activities than students with a G.P.A. under 3.0. This suggests that a high academic work ethic may also translate into a higher commitment to exercising.

Other studies on school-age children have also shown that students who did well on tests of muscular fitness, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and body composition, scored higher on academic achievement tests. An experiment at an American high school showed that students in literacy classes held immediately following PE class consistently performed better than those in the same classes held later in the day.

How does exercise really help? Exercise allows more blood to flow to the brain. This helps the brain take in more nutrients, increase stamina and energy levels, and keep you more alert. This reduces boredom from studying. Exercise has the power to change your brain for the better by creating new cells, balancing neurotransmitters and improving connections between cells.  Experts recommend that children at school participate in at least one hour of physical activity every day because it improves memory, concentration, and processing speed.

So whether or not you have tests coming up, go hit the gym today. It will not only make you physically active but also mentally alert!!