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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gender is A Factor in Motivation to Exercise

The differences between men and women do not stop at their approach to exercise.  Gender plays a role in factors that motivate an individual to exercise and stick with it.  Two recent studies highlight these differences.  One investigation (February 2007) conducted on college students at Indiana University found that many factors played a role in adherence to an exercise program for female students.  These reasons and personality traits included:
  • To promote positive body image
  • Presence of confidence in personal ability to use exercise equipment
  • Preference for aerobic exercise (e.g., running or swimming)
There was only one predominate factor predicting exercise adherence for the male students - weight training.  The study found that the male subjects were more likely to exercise if strength training was part of their program than if the regimen consisted of aerobic exercise alone.  Furthermore, the study results indicated that those factors that motivate women to stick to an exercise program (positive body image and confidence in abilities) have no affect on maintenance for men. Women were consistent with exercise regardless of whether strength training was a part of the program or not.

Another study comparing the influence of gender on exercise behavior was conducted at Temple University in Philadelphia (April 2010).  Researchers studied 906 marathon runners.  They found that female marathon runners were more likely to focus on the achievement of personal goals (e.g., improvement of mood and overall mental and physical health) to motivate their participation, while men were more likely to emphasize competition as a predominate motivator.

The findings of these recent studies support similar results from investigations conducted in the past. Women tend to exercise more for health and fitness reasons.  Men concentrate more on numbers (e.g., number of pounds lifted during weight training) and competition (e.g., overall placement in a race).

Why is this information important?  It is a reminder that there is not a "one-size fits all" approach when it comes to exercise.  Understanding the factors that play a role in motivation can help individuals to set personal fitness goals and to develop a plan to achieve those goals.

Note:  Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a  physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

Resources:  "Are Male Marathoners More Competitive Than Women?" April 17, 2010, Preidt. R

Indiana University Media Relations, February 2007 "The Exercise Hook:  It's different for men and women." Stednit,. B. and Arvin, C.

Percept Mot Skills, 1998 Apr;86(2):723-32, "Sex differences in exercise motivation and body-image satisfaction among college students," Smith, B.L. et al,.

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