Data Shows Student Gym Use Boosts GPA, Social Health


It's common knowledge that going to the gym is good for you, but now colleges are taking a closer look at their campus's gym users and breaking down their habits, revealing everything from the most popular gym hours to the effect working out has on GPA.

UCLA uses an app called GymFlow, which tracks gym usage in real time. The school implemented the in hopes to optimize their recreation center. Students are able to look at the app and see what areas of the gym are crowded and which are open. GymFlow also uses historical data to predict how crowded the gym will be in the future.

"Over the years, and as interest, participation and demands have grown, both students and members have wanted access to information in order to better plan and schedule their workouts," Deluca said via e-mail. "I think we all know that whether you are a student or an employee, time is a precious commodity… (GymFlow) created a perfect solution to the need and allowed us to deliver an enhanced service in an easily accessible app."

The attendance data GymFlow uses comes from the ID card swipe system. The app promises that it does not collect personally identifiable information, and it only aims to measure traffic, writes Canton Winer for USA Today.

Aside from optimizing gym users' time, tracking gym usage can be helpful for a school in order to know where to improve. According to Sam Hayes for US News, Ohio State University also tracks gym usage. The university found that enrollment in fitness classes increased by 68% between 2012 and 2014.

After Purdue University spent $98 million on a new 470,000-foot rec center they saw usage surge. University officials also noticed through ID card scanning data that students who exercised more performed better academically.

In fall 2013, students who never visited the rec center had an average GPA of 3.07, and students who made 64 visits or more had an average GPA of 3.2.

This correlation is even stronger among first year students. Students who completed their first semester and worked out in the gym 15 times or more averaged 3.08 GPAs and students who never went averaged 2.81, reports Rachel Bachman for The Wall Street Journal.

In a separate study, Christopher Slaten found that students who attended fitness classes had significantly lower stress levels and more confidence organizing their social lives than student who did not. The students attending the fitness class also improved academically.

While previous generations of college students might have mixed in the occasional softball game amid test cramming and late-night pizza, the current one has grown up amid a fitness and wellness boom. Many students arrive on campus with workout habits. "They understand the critical importance of physical activity," says Don Stenta, OSU's director of student life recreational sports.

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