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What is the correlation between grade point average and physical activity among college
Many different studies were created to find a correlation between physical activity
and academics of students. Certain studies were performed on students of different ages and
from different locations. Based on other studies, most researchers have found some correlation
between physical activity and academic achievement of students, depending on the background
of the students being researched.
One research study was done on students in third through eighth grade from a Mississippi
school district (Blom, L. C., Alvarez, J., Zhang, L., & Kolbo, J., 2011). The purpose of this
specific research was to find any correlation between the students’ physical activity and test
scores (Blom et al, 2011). To collect data for the research, the students participated in fitness
tests within their gym classes (Blom et al, 2011). The teachers tested their students’ physical
fitness by having them participate in activities such as running, sit-ups, and curl-ups (Blom et al ,
2011). This data was entered into a Fitnessgram software to later be compared to the students test
scores from the Mississippi Curriculum Test, a state test taken by students each year (Blom et al,
2011). The students with better physical fitness had higher test scores than those who were not a
physically fit (Blom et al, 2011). The results of this research showed that there was a direct
positive correlation, with a p value less than 0.0001, between the students’ physical fitness and
academic achievement (Blom et al, 2011).
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A different research study was conducted at a university to test the same research
question, but with another method. Researchers at the University of Texas created an
experimental study to find a connection between the students’ grade point average and their
average amount physical activity (Mull, H., & Tietjen-Smith, T., 2014). A survey consisting of
questions about “academic performance, basic demographics, exercise routines, family life,
importance of education…and social/emotional well-being” was given to a control and
experimental group to collect data (Mull et al, 2014). T-tests were then used to compare the data
to show that the students who participated in regular physical activity had an overall higher grade
point average (Mull et al, 2014). The results of this study are similar to those of the previously
mentioned research study.
Survey research was performed in the Midwest to compare students’ physical activity and
nutrition to their academic success (Edwards, J. U., Mauch, L., & Winkelman, M. R. , 2011).
Eight-hundred sixth grade students completed the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey,
which asks about physical activities and nutrition (Edwards et al, 2011). Students were then
asked to participate in fitness tests within their gym classes, while the teachers collected data for
the research (Edwards et al, 2011). Measures of Academic Progress tests were taken by students
on a regular basis, and the scores from these tests were used to compare to the students’ physical
activity and fitness data (Edwards et al, 2011). The results of this research confirmed that
students with higher test scores were associated with more physical activity and were healthier
(Edwards et al, 2011).
An experimental study was conducted Sweden to also find the relationship between
physical activity and academic excellence. Five-hundred and forty-five students from elementary
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schools in Sweden were chosen to participate in this research (Bunketorp Käll, L., Malmgren, H.,
Olsson, E., Lindén, T., & Nilsson, M., 2015). A portion of this group of students were enrolled in
a school which had a new physical activity program for students; while the rest of the students
were chosen from a school that did not have this program (Bunketorp, 2015). A test called
KIDSCREEN was used to test the students’ physical fitness (Bunketorp et al, 2015). Each
students’ test scores for certain subjects were used to compare to the results of the fitness tests
(Bunketorp et al, 2015). The results of the comparison showed that overall, the students in the
physical activity program scored higher on their subject tests than those who were not enrolled in
the program (Bunketorp et al, 2015). This proves that there is a positive relationship between
students’ physical activity and academic success within this research study (Bunketorp et al,
A similar study occurred in Barcelona, which involved finding the correlation between
physical activity and academic performance among students from secondary schools (Morales,
J., Gomis, M., Pelicer-Chenol, M., GarcÍa-MasÓ, X., GÓmez, A., & GonzÁlez, L. , 2011). A
group of 284 students from three different secondary schools were chosen to participate in this
study (Morales et al, 2011). These students were give a survey called “The International Physical
Activity Questionnaire,” which included questions pertaining to the students amount of physical
activity and whether that activity was vigorous or moderate (Morales et al, 2011). The data
collected from this survey was then compared to the students’ average grades from all classes
(Morales et al, 2011). After the data collected was compared, a linear relationship between the
two sets of data was formed having a p value of less than .001 and a r value of .31 (Morales et al,
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2011). Overall, the students who participated in good amounts of moderate and vigorous
physical activity weekly had higher academic scores (Morales et al, 2011).
Each research study used different methods to test a similar research question in many
areas with different age groups of students. Although each study had its own unique qualities,
these studies brought about similar results to the research question. The methods of these
research studies were used as a basis of this research study, to find a correlation among
undergraduate college students’ physical fitness and grade point average.
In order to find if exercise has a correlation on academic performance a quantitative
survey had to be created to get the maximum amount of responses. The survey was created on
Google Forms; this was to make data analysis more efficient. After the survey was created, it
was distributed to students at the University of Tampa. After the survey was completed we
examined the spreadsheet and eliminated entries that were inviable, such as the entry was not in
college or they gave hours of working out when they said they do not workout. In order to make
the survey analysis simpler the gender option was limited to male, female, and other.
The sample of the study consisted of 53 females, 19 males, and 1 other (Appendix A).
This made a total of 73 responses to our survey. The sample was limited to only college students
in order to keep the sample around the same age range and to ensure the students have a GPA.
The sample also consisted of mostly high intellect students due to the high number of AP
students that answered the survey. All of the surveys were from The University of Tampa to
keep the sample in a central location.
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The survey used consisted of 9 questions. The survey gave multiple options for ethnicity
as to not exclude anyone. The survey also asked if the participant played high school sports to
see if their high school performance was affected by physical activity 80.8% said they played
high school sports (Appendix B). To see how sports affect students at the college level, a
question about collegiate sports was asked which 23% said yes (Appendix C).
We discovered no correlation between exercise and academic performance, the p value
was .16269494 for Days of exercise and GPA. The P value for hours of exercise with days in
correlation to GPA. There is no academic performance benefits from exercise. The result we
found could potentially be due to most of our participants having high GPAs’ around 3.0. If the
study was more broad and generalized then there could of potentially have been a better
In the procedure of the survey when choosing the questions for the survey, we analyzed
demographic information such as race and age, and questions about the history of their athletic
and academic performance. We asked this information in hopes of being aware that we were
analyzing a diverse group of individuals who had taken the survey, however it did give us
indication that we had reached a diverse group of individuals, but that was all we did with the
information. The demographic, athletic history, and academic history data could have been used
to find a correlation with the grade point average and physical activity data that was also
collected to see if there was a positive or negative relationship between the data. For example, if
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we had analyzed the relationship between whether or not someone was a collegiate athlete and
their grade point average, those athletes have required amounts of physical activity per day
through practices and how that impacts the athletes’ academic performance. There was
significant data that was collected that was not applied nor analyzed to the study to see what
other kind of relationships could be built through the data collected.
In the survey, under the question, “How many hours per day do you exercise?”, we
capped the options at 4 or more hours per day. We chose to do this because it is not healthy to
put your body through that many hours of exercise multiple days of the week, it is believed to be
much more effective to exercise multiple days a week for maybe an hour or two a day.
However, some people choose to put their bodies through that kind of intensity and we shouldn’t
have limited our data by only having options 0 through 4+ hours per day. After discussing the
issue and following the conclusion of the survey results, we realized that athletes sometimes put
themselves through 5 or 6 hours a day of intense cardio, weight, and skill training in order to
elevate their skill level. In the event, we had left the question with a free response option instead
of a drop down option, there may have been a better correlation within the data.
We believe the sample of people we had access to and actually had the survey distributed
to had an impact on the data we collected. We distributed the survey to large groups of
individuals we knew and were our peers including fraternities, sororities, elite academic and
leadership groups on campus. The survey was distributed to these large groups of college
students in common environments as a convenience factor, and it may have skewed the data we
collected. In Greek life, academic, and leadership organizations there are typically grade point
average requirements students are required to meet in order to remain a participant in the
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organization. Therefore, the students that we surveyed maintain high grade point averages
regardless of whether they exercise at all during the week, although exercise may be a good
mental release for the students that doesn’t necessarily mean they take advantage of it.
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Blom, L. C., Alvarez, J., Zhang, L., & Kolbo, J. (2011). Associations between health-related
physical fitness, academic achievement and selected academic behaviors of elementary
and middle school students in the state of mississippi. ICHPER -- SD Journal of
Research in Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport & Dance, 6(1), 13-19.
Bunketorp Käll, L., Malmgren, H., Olsson, E., Lindén, T., & Nilsson, M. (2015). Effects of a
curricular physical activity intervention on children's school performance, wellness, and
brain development. Journal of School Health, 85(10), 704-713. doi:10.1111/josh.12303
Edwards, J. U., Mauch, L., & Winkelman, M. R. (2011). Relationship of nutrition and physical
activity behaviors and fitness measures to academic performance for sixth graders in a
midwest city school district. Journal of School Health, 81(2), 65-73.
Morales, J., Gomis, M., Pelicer-Chenol, M., GarcÍa-MasÓ, X., GÓmez, A., & GonzÁlez, L.
(2011). Relation between physical activity and academic performance in 3rd- year
secondary education students. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 113(2), 539-546.
Mull, H., & Tietjen-Smith, T. (2014). Physical activity and academic success: Links on a
university campus. FOCUS on Colleges, Universities & Schools, 8(1), 1-8.
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Physical Activity & GPA Survey
1. Gender *
2. Mark only one oval.
3. Race/Ethnicity *
4. Mark only one oval.
○ Pacific Islander
○ Middle Eastern
○ Multi Racial
5. Age (in years, Ex. 18) *
6. How many days per week do you exercise? *
7. Mark only one oval.
○ 0 days
○ 1 days
○ 2 days
○ 3 days
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○ 4 days
○ 5 days
○ 6 days
○ 7 days
8. How many hours per day do you exercise? *
9. Mark only one oval.
○ 0 hrs
○ 1 hrs
○ 2 hrs
○ 3 hrs
○ 4+ hrs
10. Did you participate in high school athletics? *
11. Mark only one oval.
12. Are you a collegiate athlete? *
13. Mark only one oval.
14. What is your current GPA, if you do not have a current GPA please use high
school GPA (unweighted)? Ex. 3.75 (nothing higher than 4.0)*
15. Did you take a significant amount of Honors/AP classes in high school? *
16. Mark only one oval.