June 3rd, 2010
05:17 PM ET

Does increased activity mean higher GPA?

By Georgiann Caruso
CNN Medical Associate Producer

Twenty minutes of daily vigorous physical activity among college students may lead them to have grade point averages about .4 higher, on a scale of 4.0, compared with students who do not exercise.

A study presented Thursday at the American College of Sport Medicine's annual meeting demonstrated the relationship and reinforced the notion that exercise reduces stress, improves performance and increases a sense of well-being.

Joshua Ode supervised the study at a university in the northern U.S., of students ages 18-22. Ode said, "If the students are improving in the classroom, it may create a better campus environment. You're creating more successful students, which is the goal of universities."

Researchers studied 266 undergraduates and defined moderate activity as those exercises which don't make you sweat or breathe hard, and vigorous activity for those which do, of any type. Their findings were consistent regardless of gender or major.

Ode said one of the next questions for further study should include the impact of activity on GPA throughout college.

And it doesn't have to be seven days a week, Ode said. But the research suggests the more often, the better.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (699 Responses)
  1. The_Mick

    The person who exercises more may have his brain placed in a healthier body which promotes better brain use. I taught high-school gift and talented chemistry and physics. Our school had numerous state titles, particularly in Basketball, Track, and Baseball, and most of our school's All-County athletes took my classes: the best athletes tended to be the brighter kids. I think brighter people in general have a greater sense of self-confidence and tend to be more competitive. When I was in graduate school almost everyone of us who were scholarship students were relatively so-so athletes, but we regularly played basketball, swam in the school pool, played racketball, etc. and it got to the point where we were competitive with each other about it.

    June 6, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Tom

    It makes sense that those who exercise regularly, would probably be more likely to have the same discipline and self control towards their academic studies.

    This is a flawed conclusion by the author. Correlation does not automatically mean causation. But just because two things occur together does not mean that one caused the other, even if it seems to make sense.

    June 6, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. MikeP

    Typically the mistake of assuming causation from correlation comes from the person writing the article moreso than the person doing the research.

    As has been said, there is an easy alternate explanation – that people who have higher self-discipline will stick to exercising, and thus exercise more, and will likewise apply that self-discipline to their studies, improving their grades.

    June 6, 2010 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mark (Chicago)

    Hmmm. I'd have to read the study but the conclusion seems overly general. Can it be that those who exercise have a more regimented and self-disciplined nature – hence the exercise – hence the same nature in their studying? So is it really the exercise or merely the personality nature of the person?

    June 6, 2010 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jarrett

    Interesting. I guess this didn't apply to me. I was under enough stress with 6 classes, 35 hours a week, 3 hour round trip commute, along with writing for the school paper and in a bunch of activities on and off campus for TWO semesters back to back with very little time to exercise. I ended up getting a 4.0 GPA back to back two semesters (12 classes total) leading up to graduation. I think there has to be more to this study than what is being alluded to.

    June 6, 2010 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    If you drive around all day I suppose you need some exercise time but .4 increase in intellect level isn't worth it frankly. Most people exercise already through daily chores, recreational activity like going dancing and such. I hate exercise – always hated it. It's overrated.
    A lot of exercise actually is harmful to you. You have to concentrate on diet. Also there are a lot of people who need oxygenation therapy including me – that's getting some direct oxygen intake from a oxygen tank. People have damaged lungs – COPD and worse. It's not treated properly. I was actually healthier breathing wise taking antibiotic which was for acne, which i no longer have – eurethromycin(sp.,?). Now I have bad coughing and have a hard time breathing and occasionally get flemy throat coughing. Certain relatives of mine have wheezing problems as well – they're not even tested or treated properly either.There is a bacteria problem that needs constant antibiotic treatment but the medical societies play games with it. Also taking an allergy pill or two every day helps too. They pretend antibiotics are bad for you and can cause stomach trouble – B.S. If that were true why did they keep me on various antibiotics for acne for over 20 years. Lie lie lie. They lie, they lie in bed with whores and then they lie another way. I'm sick of those people. Theresa Noelle Younan YMMA-III

    June 7, 2010 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex K

      I'm sorry, what are you talking about?

      September 4, 2012 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
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    Antibiotics for acne was even any help hardly because the acne was caused by caffeine intake which affected me in various ways.
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.