A new study has revealed that individuals choose different physical activities based on what motivates them to exercise in the first place. The researchers have also determined that personality traits influence whether people are likely to prefer solo or group exercise, how frequently they work out, and if they are likely to stick to their routine.
The experts set out to investigate why individuals adopt and adhere to regular physical activity programs, and whether differences in personality and motives may predict their workout styles and frequency.
The study revealed that individuals who chose to participate in CrossFit, sports, or group exercise were more motivated by social connectedness than those who selected aerobic or resistance training exercise.
The researchers also determined that all of the participants were highly motivated to improve their health. However, those who were more motivated by a sense of challenge than by weight management tended to engage in resistance training and sports.
According to the study, individual differences in motivation and self-control can predict exercise frequency. For example, individuals who were more motivated by personal challenge, pleasure, and stress management were found to exercise more frequently.
“Many individuals who initiate exercise programs may actually select activities that conflict with their interests, styles, personalities, and/or reasons for engagement,” said study lead author Allyson Box of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“Our findings support the need for individualized exercise programs, not only from a physical standpoint, but also from a motivational standpoint. Taking these factors into account may impact the amount of physical activity/exercise that individuals actually complete.”
The investigation was focused on more than 400 physically active individuals who completed an online survey distributed through social media.
“Our findings suggest that it may be more than just seeking the latest ‘fitness fad’ or ‘new diet’ in order to influence health outcomes; identifying individual characteristics and motivational factors will aid in developing an exercise program that individuals will stick to over a prolonged period of time, not just a few months,” wrote the study authors.
“We encourage individuals to reflect on their personality and reasons for becoming physically active before diving into a physical activity program to ensure they engage in a physical activity that is compatible with their interest, personality, and goals.”
The study is published in the journal Heliyon.