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The Short Term Effects of Exercise on Academic Achievement
Last registered on January 24, 2017


Trial Information
General Information
The Short Term Effects of Exercise on Academic Achievement
Initial registration date
January 24, 2017
Last updated
January 24, 2017 1:26 PM EST
Primary Investigator
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
It is a well-known fact that regular exercise has positive health consequences. Whether exercise also affects other important outcomes, such as academic performance, is however still an open question. We therefore designed a field experiment that was implemented in collaboration with the University of Bergen (UIB), Bergen City College (HIB), and the Student Gym in Bergen (SIB). We randomly assigned students from UIB and HIB that were not members of the student gym to either a treatment group that were encouraged to start exercising at the student gym in the spring semester 2016, or a control group that did not get any encouragement. The participants granted us access to the complete grade transcripts from university from the time they started higher education until June 2018 and the complete exercise records at SIB. The high-quality administrative data thus allows us to analyze whether the intervention affected exercise and in turn academic performance, both in the short run and in the long run.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Cappelen, Alexander et al. 2017. "The Short Term Effects of Exercise on Academic Achievement." AEA RCT Registry. January 24. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1949-1.0.
Former Citation
Cappelen, Alexander et al. 2017. "The Short Term Effects of Exercise on Academic Achievement." AEA RCT Registry. January 24. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1949/history/13380.
Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcome variable is academic performance. To measure academic performance, we construct two outcome variables. The first is called Completed Study Points, defined as the total number of study points a student completed a given semester. There are two ways not to complete a course. First, the student may fail the exam. Second, the student may decide not to take the exam that semester.
Since Completed Study Points is a rather coarse measure of academic performance, we complement our analysis with the outcome variable Grade Average, defined as the average grade per semester (weighted by study points) excluding courses with a Pass/Fail system. In the calculation of the Grade Average we use a numeric scale (1-6) where A equals 6 and F equals 1.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The study is based on a between-subject encouragement design. Treated subjects receive a free gym card for the spring semester 2016 (the encouragement to start exercising), whereas control groups subjects are not encouraged. Due to random assignment of treatment we can evaluate how the encouragement affect gym exercise and most importantly academic performance. Note that data on both exercise and academic achievement is collected from administrative records.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Not applicable
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
400 Treatment (200 in subtreatment Bonus; 100 in subtreatment PT; 100 in subtreatment Card)
382 Control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The minimum detectable effect size is 0.2 of a standard deviation in terms of the Grade Average (6 best grade, 1 worst grade). Assumptions: mean Grade Average control group = 4; Standard deviation = 1.
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)