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Health Club Management

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Research: Fitness personalities

A new study by researchers at the British Psychological Society suggests that personality type can impact the effectiveness of a person’s exercise regime as it influences their preferred workout style, frequency and location

Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 2
Extroverts prefer to exercise with others / photo: shutterstock.com
Extroverts prefer to exercise with others / photo: shutterstock.com
The most important piece of advice to come out of this research is that there is not one type of exercise that is suited to everyone

The fitness industry has long been focused on finding new ways to attract more people to undertake regular exercise. Yet despite the development of new and exciting initiatives, classes and equipment, many operators struggle to retain their gym members.

New research presented last month at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference of the Division of Occupational Psychology in Stratford-upon-Avon now suggests that personality may play a big role in the way people like to exercise – indicating that this may be a reason why some people do not enjoy going to the gym, regardless of the kit or classes on offer.

THE PERSONALITY LINK
In the study, 794 individuals completed an online survey designed to investigate the relationship between personality type, exercise frequency and choice of activity.

Personality was defined according to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which covers four areas of personality: introversion versus extraversion; sensing versus intuition; thinking versus feeling; and judging versus perceiving.

The results showed that two aspects of personality – sensing versus intuition and thinking versus feeling – significantly influenced how frequently a person exercises. Specifically, intuitive personalities were more frequent exercisers than people with sensing personalities, and thinkers exercised more frequently than feelers.

A MATTER OF PREFERENCE
Exercise preferences were also found to be in line with the expectations of the researchers, Richard Thompson and John Hackston. For example, the research showed that extroverts displayed a greater preference for exercising at the gym and with other other people, whereas introverts had a greater preference for exercising at home when compared with extroverts.

Hackston said: “The most important piece of advice to come out of this research is that there is not one type of exercise that is suited to everyone.

“There can be pressure to follow the crowd to the gym or sign up to the latest exercise fad, but our research suggests it would be more effective for them to match their personality type to an exercise plan that is more likely to last the test of time.”

Thompson, C and Hackston, J. Personality, exercise, job satisfaction and turnover intention: Are they related. British Psychological Society (BPS), 11 Jan 2018

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