Non-Physical Activity vs. Physical Activity and Effects on Academic Performance

       College is a big step in life and many who are new to it get carried away in the lifestyle change. Many college students seem to become less active once they start college and many reasons to this can be because for one they study a lot in order to get good grades in their classes. 

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assert that many adult Americans do not meet the national guide­lines for aerobic physical activity, and muscle-strengthening physical activity (National Center for Health Statistics, 2011).



Why is Physical Activity Important?

       But what if taking a little time out of your day in order to exercise could help you improve your scores? It is stated that college students should get at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity a week. This is told because of the fact that regular activity helps one improve their overall health and fitness. Another good aspect to this for college students is that it reduces the many risks for chronic conditions as high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, and even obesity. (College Health and Safety, 2015).


     It is said that physical activity helps one with many benefits as for example it can improve bone health, decrease levels of body fat, help post-secondary education, get one a higher income (from better education), and even reduce symptoms of depression. Many people have excuses to why they do not have enough time for physical activity, which excuses can included not enough time, not enough money, transportation, or even no work out partner. If you think about it why not invest in as little as 30 minutes a day in order to get all these benefits exercising. According to healthy people 2020 more than 80 percent of adults do not even meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. I presume that myself to be a very large number, but as you can see from the diagrams below. (Physical Activity, 2008). 

Physical Activity correlated with Academic Performance


A study by N.S lade and M. Kies discusses how a medical student’s physical activity begins to slow down as the year goes along.  “A large body of evidence suggests that physical activity is positively associated with cognitive ability.” Being physically active can help your brain be more efficient when learning.  Not only can being physically active help you think better. It will of course make you feel better as well. “Those who are physically active have reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, non- insulin- dependent (type 2) diabetes, colon cancers” and a whole host of medical issues. (American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2002, pg. 1)
        So it may come to a shock that “only 25% of adults report snagging in recommended levels of physical activity (either 30 minutes of moderate – intensity activity 5 or more days per week or 20 minutes of vigorous- intensity physical activity 3 or more days per week”(
American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2002, pg. 1).

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     According to HealthyPeople.Gov, “Data from another study shows a study for the proportion of adults aged 18 and over who met the guidelines for aerobic physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination) and are age adjusted using the year 2000 standard population. Respondents were asked to select one or more races. The single race categories listed include persons who reported only one racial group. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Data by education are for people’s aged 25 and over. 



In 2012, 50.0% (age adjusted) of adults aged 18 and over met the guidelines for aerobic physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination). This rate varied by sex, race and ethnicity, education, and activity limitation status:

  •  53.8% (age adjusted) of males aged 18 and over met the guidelines for aerobic physical activity, compared with 46.5% of females aged 18 and over
  •  53.5% (age adjusted) of non-Hispanic white adults aged 18 and over met the guidelines for aerobic physical activity, compared with 49.1% of Asian, 46.2% of American Indian or Alaska Native, 42.4% of Hispanic or Latino, and 40.9% of non-Hispanic black adults aged 18 and over. The rate for non-Hispanic white adults was nearly one and a half times the rates for both Hispanic or Latino and non-Hispanic black adults.
  • 66.4% (age adjusted) of adults aged 25 and over with an advanced degree met the guidelines for aerobic physical activity, nearly one and a half times the rate for those with some college education, 48.7%, and more than twice the rate for those with less than a high school education, 31.2%
  • 53.9% (age adjusted) of adults aged 18 and over without activity limitations met the guidelines for aerobic physical activity, almost twice the rate for adults with activity limitations, 30.5%.

Further­ more, findings from the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) indicate that 23.4% of college students reported no days of moderate-intensity cardiovascular or aerobic exercise of at least 30 minutes, and 38.4% reported zero days of vigorous-intensity physical activity of at least 20 minutes in the last 7 days (American College Health Association, 2013)” (Physical Activity 2014, “No leisure time physical activity).

“Students who make decreases in their recreation, on average, are likely to decrease their exam scores.”(Slade et al 2015 , pg. 1) The study found that the students who used the campus recreation area more often, did in fact have higher test scores.

    We go through many things throughout our stages in life such as relationship, family, and personal life situations. A place where many young individuals start to feel pressure from life is in college. We start to trigger a response that is called stress, which can have positive or negative effects to our health. “Stress has been defined as environmental events or chronic conditions that objectively threaten the physical and/or psychological health and well‐being of individuals of a particular age in a particular society” (David Barney, 2013). Physical activity that caused a person to sweat has been shown to benefit those who have stress and lower their levels. It has been shown that those who exercise versus those who don’t have had lower responses of stress and felt they could take on more throughout the day. Students who have taken physical activity classes in school have also shown to have an advantage academically over those who don’t take any during their college career.

Works Cited

College Health and Safety. (2015, August 18).


David Barney, L. B. (2013). Effects of College Student's Participation in Physical Activity Classes on Stress. American Journal of Health Studies , 1‐3.


Milroy, J. J., Orsini, M. M., D'Abundo, M. L., Sidman, C. L., & Venezia, D. (2015). Physical activity promotion on campus: Using empirical evidence to recommend strategic approaches to target female college students. College Student Journal, 49(4), 517. Cited from!/search?bookMark=ePnHCXMw42JgAfZbU1nAKwfNdI0tjU04YCWjmbGZKSdDcwDUBQqgpfugGxIUCiBLz_LzFIAoOTG3oLTYSgG08DtdITW3IBN8WIZCKvSaTYWSfAVQbzE3NzUvRaEYeohrsgLsEO7UYpAKyEJqhbTUXGBBq5AM6YUrFEMOjCzmZpBzcw1x9tAFFcPxoLgEGpMcD9qGamFqbgI6RJCAAgAOe0vt


Physical Activity. (2013). Retrieved April 26, 2016, from


Recommendations to increase physical activity in communities. (2002). American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 22(4), 67-72. doi:10.1016/s0749-3797(02)00433-6


Slade, A. N., & Kies, S. M. (2015). The relationship between academic performance and recreation use among first-year medical students. Medical Education Online, 20(0). doi:10.3402/meo.v20.25105