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Link between fitness, iron levels and students' grades: Study

A new study shows the benefits of increased fitness levels and iron intake on students' academic performance.

By
Amy Wallace
New study shows the impact of physical fitness and iron levels on students's grade point average. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New study shows the impact of physical fitness and iron levels on students's grade point average. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Researchers have found that students who were physically fit and had normal iron levels had higher grade point averages than students who did not.

The study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Pennsylvania State University followed 105 female college students enrolled at Penn State and had an average GPA of 3.68.

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Researchers found that women with the highest levels of stored iron had the highest grades, and that women who were in the best physical shape with sufficient iron stores had higher grades than women with lower physical fitness and iron stores.

The difference in GPA was roughly 0.34, or the difference of a letter grade, between the two groups.

"GPA is a very easy measure of success and something everyone can relate to," Karsten Koehler, assistant professor of nutrition and health sciences at the University of Nebraska, said in a press release. "That's something that resonates pretty well. It's always nice to show an association that has a meaningful effect that translates into something everybody can apply."

One reason for the findings could be that iron deficiency can cause fatigue, lower work capacity and poor academic performance.

Koehler said that the research showed the impact of fitness was greater overall than the impact of iron status but that when combined, the impact was significant.

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"Improving fitness or maintaining a high level of fitness can be important for collegiate success," Koehler said. "Ideally, we should also make sure the diet is appropriate to prevent nutrient deficiencies."

The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition.

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