University Recreation Finds Positive Link Between Facility Usage and Grades

An informal recreation basketball game.
By UREC student photpgrapher, Ben Matthews

An informal recreation basketball game.

Is use of recreational facilities one of the habits of more successful students? Apparently so, according to a study conducted by the department of University Recreation. In analyzing entrances into UREC facilities, students who visited recreational facilities more often also had better grades.

"Overall, there was a significant positive relationship between UREC facility scans and GPA," said Katie Helms, assistant director for UREC.

Student ID scans collected at UREC facility entrances during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years were matched with data such as GPA, re-enrollment, and hours passed. In the study, students who visited UREC facilities at least once during the school year had higher GPAs than students who did not visit at all. Additionally, students who had an average of two visits per week had significantly higher grade point averages than those who visited once per week or less. Students who recorded an average of three entrances per week into UREC facilities earned a mean GPA of 3.25, compared to 3.04 for students with less than one entrance per week. Students who didn't check in to UREC facilities at all earned grade point averages of 2.87. 

U of A students who checked into UREC facilities were also more likely to stay in school. Re-enrollment rates from the 2012-13 to the 2013-14 school years were as much as 16 percent higher among students who checked into UREC facilities an average of two or more times per week than those who visited less frequently. 

"It's no surprise to see these kinds of associations," said Jeremy Battjes, director of University Recreation. 

"Similar results have been found at many of our peer institutions. We know from previous research that students who are more involved with their campus communities are more likely to be academically successful. University Recreation provides a way for students to interact with faculty, staff, and each other in the heart of their campus."

Time spent in activities outside of the classroom does not necessarily translate to less academic productivity. Students who visited UREC facilities also passed more cumulative hours during the school year than those who did not. 

"UREC hopes to make that time away from the classroom healthy and enriching, addressing the wellness of the whole student," said Helms. 

"We don't view campus recreation participation as a contrast to academics, but rather as a part of the larger learning environment."   

In addition to on-campus involvement, results may also be attributed to connections between physical activity and cognitive function.  Similar relationships have been found between physical activity and academic performance in elementary schoolchildren. Healthy habits may also play a role in the association between academic success and UREC participation. "Students who make time and effort for healthy recreational habits are probably also addressing their academic obligations."

The department of University Recreation is a major campuswide service unit of the College of Education and Health Professions. University Recreation offers two indoor fitness facilities, group fitness classes, 50-meter competition pool, outdoor field complex, outdoor equipment rental center, trips and bike shop, as well as intramural and club sports. For more information, visit urec.uark.edu or email urec@uark.edu.

Contacts

Katie Helms, assistant director
University Recreation
479-575-4684, khelms@uark.edu

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