Water polo is just one of the many offerings at the Purdue University student recreation center Photo courtesy of Purdue University

Water polo is just one of the many offerings at the Purdue University student recreation center. Photo courtesy of Purdue University.

Universities Show Increased Usage of Rec Centers

Several universities are seeing increases in the usage of their student recreation centers, and according to one study, students who work out at the centers have a higher grade-point average than those who make no visits.

Several universities are seeing increases in the usage of their student recreation centers, and according to one study, students who work out at the centers have a higher grade-point average than those who make no visits. Some of the results were published in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, reported students in the fall of 2013 who made no visits to its recreation facilities had an average GPA of 3.07, while students with 64 or more visits in a semester averaged 3.20. Students who visited rec facilities 15 times or more in their first semester at Purdue had an average GPA of 3.08 compared with 2.81 for those who made no visits.

Purdue, which recently built a new $98 million, 470,000-square-foot rec center, used data from student ID cards to track usage. Total visits to the rec center increased by 27 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to the university.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) drew 43,734 unique visitors to its rec center last year, almost 5,000 more than its student enrollment. An app called GymFlow that UCLA uses allows students to see how crowded specific areas in its recreation center are before they go, according to the article.

Total visits to group fitness classes at the 570,000-square-foot rec center at Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, rose 68 percent between 2012 and 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported. Enrollment increased 3 percent during that time.

The number of weekly fitness classes at North Carolina State, Raleigh, NC, tripled to 150 two years ago, according to the report.

NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, formerly called the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, reports about 75 percent of U.S. students use on-campus rec centers, facilities or programs in a given year.

The increased usage in rec centers can be attributed to new and different offerings from universities. Ohio State has held a Harry Potter-themed cycle class and Downton Abbey yoga, the Wall Street Journal reported. North Carolina State holds "Battleship" contests in canoes at its indoor pool. Portland State University, Portland, OR, has held a zombie dodgeball game on Halloween and a women's night at its rock-climbing wall.

"It's clear that today's college students are keenly aware of the power and importance of physical activity in their daily lives," Jim Baugh, founder of PHIT America, said in a press release from the organization, which is spearheading the "Movement for a Fit and Healthy America." "Kudos to America's college students for leading the charge to reverse America's 'inactivity pandemic.' We need all age groups—younger and older—to follow the lead set by America's coeds."

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