It’s not exactly news that when you enjoy something, it motivates you to continue doing it. But despite typical resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, or stay fit, many find it difficult to exercise regularly.
Previous studies have shown that up to 50% of gym members drop out within the first six months of joining a new exercise program.
“Training plans are based on sport science, rather than psychological factors, and we thought that there must be a different way to analyze this behavior,” said Benjamin Wienke, doctoral student at Humboldt University in Berlin and lead author of the study. “So we decided to look at whether there could be an emotional explanation.”
Wienke and his partner, Darko Jekauc, spoke with a group of 24 men and women about their exercise habits, lifestyle, and their preferred activities. Without surprise, their results found that enjoyment was a common denominator among those who adhered to a regular exercise routine.
The next thing to consider was what factors trigger the enjoyment. According to Wienke, further study of the interview responses showed four significant aspects that converted into the positive emotions that people associated with their physical activities: perceived competence, perceived social interaction, novel experiences, and physical exertion.
At the top of the list was perceived competence (the sense of achievement or mastery), for both men and women. Social interaction was next on the list, which ranged from joining a team sport to simply making new friends at the gym.
What This Means
Incorporating these main factors could be the key to getting people to exercise regularly, which could help decrease health problems in the future.