Don’t want to exercise? Blame it on your personality

Created date

November 29th, 2019
An older man stretches before running.

An older man stretches before running.

We all know exercise is beneficial to our health in numerous ways. So why do some people exercise and others don’t?

Researchers from the University of Oregon conducted a study to find out. They zeroed in on certain personality traits and found that people who were able to make concrete plans to meet their long-term goals exercised more often than people who didn’t plan as far ahead.


This ability to make plans to reach goals is part of a personality trait called planfulness. People with this trait exhibit mental flexibility and are able to make sacrifices in the short term to achieve their long-term goals.

The researchers decided to examine the association between planfulness and exercise by having 282 students and staff from the university write out their exercise goals and complete a 30-item scale that measures planfulness. Then they collected data on campus gym attendance over a 20-week period, from the fall semester of 2017 through the 2018 winter semester.

Results of the study showed that participants who rated themselves high on planfulness went to the gym more often throughout both semesters compared to participants who rated themselves lower. A one-point increase on the planfulness scale corresponded with an additional 5.9 gym visits during the fall semester and an additional 8.5 visits during the winter semester.

Scientists hope results like these may spark interest in similar research topics and lead to more discoveries about factors that affect health-related behaviors.