- Your personality can influence whether you are likely to prefer group exercise activities, CrossFit training, resistance training, or team sports, as well as how frequently you work out and how likely you are to stick to your routine, according to a new study.
- Thinking about what motivates you in life can also help you choose an exercise regimen that you find satisfying, which can make you more likely to stick to it.
Do you live for your Tuesday evening running group? Or do you gravitate to long solo runs through the countryside? Are you stoked to hit the gym to lift? Or do you need a nudge?
How you answer those questions comes down to specific characteristics that make up your personality, according to a new study published in the journal Heliyon.
In the study, researchers analyzed data including activity type, frequency, and the personality characteristics of more than 400 physical active adults. They found that certain characteristics influenced a bunch of factors about working out, including what types of routines you prefer and how frequently you break a sweat.
It sounds like the makings of a fun quiz, but the research actually serves an important purpose: Matching your workouts with your exercise personality not only increases your enjoyment, but also the likelihood that you’ll stick with it, explained lead investigator Allyson Box, who began this work as an undergraduate student at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, in a press release.
“Many individuals who initiate exercise programs may actually select activities that conflict with their interests, styles, personalities, and/or reasons for engagement,” Box said. “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.”
So, want to make your exercise routine work for you?
If you like being affiliated with a group, you’ll likely enjoy CrossFit, team sports, and group exercise. As the study found, people who selected those activities were more highly motivated by social connectedness than those who gravitate toward primarily cardio activity like cycling and running or resistance training. If you’re a runner who feels a little FOMO when you see your friends’ super social CrossFit IG stories, consider joining a club, or even forming your own, to get your social affiliation fix.
Unsurprisingly, all exercisers are at least somewhat motivated by being healthy. But those who were more motivated by a sense of challenge than worrying about weight management or disease prevention scratched that itch in the weight room or by playing team sports, likely because it’s easy to find constant challenge in those activities. If you find yourself feeling a little unchallenged and want to change that, look no further than your nearest weight room—and start working on hitting some new lifting PRs.
Either way, you win! The research found that people who are motivated by intrinsic exercise benefits like stress management and, challenge, and the simple enjoyment of the activity exercise more frequently than those who need external motivation to get moving.
If getting shredded gets you moving, the CrossFit box will keep you coming back for more. The study found that those who chose CrossFit as their preferred activity were more motivated by looking good than all the other modes of exercise. To be fair, the CrossFit crowd is super motivated period. They were also more motivated by challenge, strength and endurance, and revitalization than everyone else.
Whether you’re an introvert or extravert or tend to be more neurotic or more open to the world doesn’t seem to impact what exercise suits you best. Though the researchers suspected those major personality factors would determine what activities people did, that wasn’t the case. All types of personalities could be found in all types of activities, which won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever basked in the sea of personalities at any given century or charity ride.
What matters most is that what you’re doing—whether it’s a run club or logging your miles solo—helps you meet the goals you find fulfilling and fits your general disposition.