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07/11/2014 02:57 pm ET

If You Want A Higher GPA, Study Shows You Should Join A Gym

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Can pumping iron pump your grade point average? New research from Michigan State University says yes.

An MSU study released this week compares 4,843 freshman and sophomores on the basis of whether they had membership to the school's recreational sports and fitness centers. The findings are significant: the students who belonged to the gym had higher GPAs than those who didn't.

James Pivarnik, the lead researcher of the study and a professor of kinesiology and epidemiology at MSU, explained students' cumulative GPAs were 0.13 points higher. Although the number may not appear significant, it could "mean the difference to those students on the cusp of getting into graduate school or even advancing to the next academic year."

Pivarnik found that students with a gym membership, in addition to having higher GPAs, had more credits completed by the end of their freshman year and stayed in school longer, helping to boost the school's retention rate.

"The idea of a healthy campus, kind of like a healthy work environment, involves [factors such as] smoking, pollution, mental health [and] feeling good about yourself as a student," Pivarnik told The Huffington Post. "What's a healthy campus to work on? What's a healthy campus to be a student on?"

In order to answer these questions, Pivarnik began the study by asking other questions, such as, “Those that work out more in general, are they healthier? Do they do better in school?” Based upon common sense, Pivarnik guessed, "The answer is probably yes."

Pivarnik’s central goals included his research providing "a compelling argument to universities that a higher student retention rate could be enhanced just by having adequate recreational and fitness facilities for students."

One of the hopes for future research is to evaluate students at a school where gym membership doesn't require them to pay out of pocket -- and is instead embedded into the tuition price -- and compare that data to the MSU findings.

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