Students who work out regularly at the campus gym are more likely to earn higher grades than their peers who don’t, according to a recent Purdue University study.
Could healthy habits improve your grades? A recent poll conducted by UCLA researchers and the Gallup organization suggests they might. Based on data from 18,552 Americans ages 18 and older polled, the researchers found a connection between healthy lifestyles — eating right, not smoking and exercising daily — and improved cognitive function.
Better memory was linked to healthy lifestyles across all age groups — even adults as young as 18. Researchers were surprised that 14% of the youngest group (ages 18-39) reported issues with their memory. The researchers expected memory issues in the middle-age (40-59) and older (60-99) groups, of which 22% and 26% reported problems respectively, but not in the youngest group.
The correlation between regular exercise and improved cognitive abilities has been previously established; however, such links were limited to older populations.
In February 2013, a study published in the Journal of Aging Research found that physical activity measurably improved verbal and spatial memory. The study focused on older women, ages 70-80, with probable mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which causes a slight but noticeable decline in cognitive abilities, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Furthermore, a person with MCI has an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
However, this new study shows that college students who exercise regularly don’t need to wait for their golden years to reap the benefits.
According to recent data from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., students who worked out regularly at the campus gym were more likely to earn higher grades than their peers who didn’t.
“This is a place where students learn to use physical activity to cope with stress,” said Tricia Zelaya, assistant director for student development and assessment at Purdue’s Division of Recreational Sports in a press release. “Being fit also is about getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and that is key to doing well in school. Our goals for success go beyond the classroom and are aimed at helping young people develop healthy habits for life.”
Sleeping well not only is essential for health but it also has cognitive benefits — for example, Haverford College’s Health Services urges students to get a solid night’s sleep to promote retention and mental sharpness.
Of course, attending class and studying diligently are essential habits to earning good grades. But carving out time to eat right, sleep well, exercise and practice overall wellness can’t hurt either.
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