Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Sport Sciences

First Advisor

Courtney Jensen

First Committee Member

Mark Van Ness

Second Committee Member

Scott Poulos


Most universities offer fitness and recreational opportunities. Few prospective studies have measured the effect of those services on academic outcomes. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of exercise behavior and recreational sport participation on student success. We tracked 1,507 students at a private D1 university for 4 years. Upon completion of the 2017-2018 academic year, we exported a registry of every undergraduate student who accessed the university fitness center. We documented how often students swiped into the recreation facility and participated in group exercise classes, personal training sessions, and rock tower usage; these served as independent variables. We also recorded semester and cumulative GPA for the Spring 2018 semester; these served as dependent variables. Independent-sample t-tests and chi-squared tests measured group differences in academic outcomes. Linear regressions tested the effects of combinations of independent variables on GPA respectively. The results showed a 18.6% usage of Baun Fitness Center; 8.9% participated in group exercise classes, 0.15% participated in personal training sessions, and 4.8% participated in using the rock tower. Mean GPA was 3.1 ± 0.6. Significant and trending elevations of GPA were observed in students who participated in group exercise classes (p<.001; 95% CI: 0.1 to 0.4) and swiped into Baun Fitness Center (p<.001). Analysis indicated no significant correlation between the number of rock tower swipes and personal training sessions with undergraduate GPA. In conclusion, increased involvement in exercise and recreational sports is associated with a higher GPA. Administrative emphasis on fitness programming may be an effective way to enhance student success.





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