Working Paper No. 1180

Exercise Improves Academic Performance

Published: September 8, 2017Pages: 49Keywords: Economics of education; Human capital formation; Behavior change; Field experiment JEL-codes: C93; I12; I18; I21; Z20

Exercise Improves Academic Performance Alexander W. Cappelen, Gary Charness, Mathias Ekström, Uri Gneezy and Bertil Tungodden


We report the results of a randomized controlled trial testing whether incentivizing physical exercise improves the academic performance of college students. As expected, the intervention increases physical activity.

The main result is that it generates a strong and significant improvement in academic performance, particularly for students who struggled at the baseline in terms of lifestyle habits. We also provide evidence on the underlying mechanisms: Students who were incentivized to exercise have a healthier life style and improved self-control.

Overall, the study demonstrates that incentivizing students to exercise can be an important tool in improving educational achievements.

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State

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This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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