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Are you predisposed to stick to an exercise program?

Posted Dec 13 2008 9:59am
by Brett Blumenthal

Whether or not you exercise, you may have a predisposition to adhering to a program more than others.  Although there aren’t a lot of scientific studies out there on this topic, AFAA, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, has developed four distinct categories of the population, each with its own behavioral characteristics.  Their view is that certain populations require different motivators to facilitate exercise adherence within group fitness classes.

Although AFAA specifically applies these categories to group fitness participants, some of the principles can be applied to the adherence of any exercise regimen.  Having an idea as to which of these four categories you fall into, may actually provide you with insights that will help you increase your chances of adhering to any fitness program.  The four categories are described in detail below.:

Type A: Type A people are most likely to exercise every day.  They will sometimes exercise for 1 to 2 hours at a time or may even exercise two times each day.  These individuals are often competitive and may be Type A individuals sociologically – driven, successful and highly motivated.  Sometimes these individuals believe they are immune to injury and will ‘overdo’ it or work through pain when they shouldn’t.

  • If you are Type A: Type As don’t need a lot of incentive to exercise.  If anything, they may be predisposed to overdoing it.  If you are a Type A Fitness personality, look to cross-train.  This will help reduce potential injury from overuse of certain muscles.  Additionally, it will help to ward off boredom.  Type As may focus on one activity too much and tend to push themselves so hard, that they may end up burning out as a result.

Type B: Type B people tend to work out consistently at a moderate level.  They may exercise every other day and will alternate lower intensity and impact with higher intensity and impact activities.  These individuals tend to work out ‘responsibly’ and are sensible in their approach, as compared to Type As who may be more compulsive.  Type Bs tend to see exercise as part of a lifestyle and understand the benefits of it long-term, as well as in the short-term.

  • If you are Type B: Type B exercisers really have the right mindset.  They don’t really require very much in the way of incentives to exercise, but understand how to maintain balance in their approach.

Type C: Type C individuals are those individuals who have never experienced exercise as a regimen before.  While some people in this category may have been involved in activities for fun, they may not have ever thought of it as fitness.  Others, however, may have been relatively sedentary.  Type Cs may be at risk for not sticking with the program if they feel that the program isn’t ‘working for them.’

  • If you are Type C: Type C exercisers may want to consider hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions if they have no real knowledge about exercise.  Otherwise, you may want to find a gym that has great customer service and personalized approaches for their members.  If you are a Type C, fitness classes may be a good starting point so that you feel that you have a ‘community’ and support network that you can rely on and/or feel comfortable with.  Look for ways to get positive reinforcement so that you stay motivated.  Speak with your fitness instructor if you are part of a class and inform them that you are new to exercising.  They will (if they are good) be more apt to ensuring that you get the positive reinforcement and guidance you need to stick with the program.

Type D: Type D individuals are completely inactive or sedentary.  Although they may be able to exercise, they are prone to start and stop or never even partake in regular exercise at all.  They may not exercise due to time constraints, expense, convenience or other obligations.  But most likely, they don’t have real interest.

  • If you are Type D: Type D exercisers are at the highest risk for not adhering to an exercise program.  They need to address three barriers: time, effort and on-the-spot excuses.   If you are a Type D, you should think about the benefits of exercise and understand the health implications of not being active.  You may want to start off slow by taking a few minutes out of every day just to walk.  Slowly build up to 10 minutes a day…15 minutes a day…20 minutes a day and so on.  Even small changes, like taking the stairs instead of an elevator, are helpful.  Type Ds need unconventional programs that are convenient and leave little room for excuses.  They should aim to understand their  de-motivators and/or excuses that come most easily.  Once they identify their biggest excuses, they  should look for ways that they can’t be excuses anymore (E.g., the gym is too far…get a piece of cardio equipment for your home).  Lastly, find ways to motivate yourself to be healthier.  Reward yourself for making positive changes in your health and activity level.

So now that you know the different ‘Fitness Types’, which one are you?  What have you done to ensure success and adherence to a fitness program?

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