A new study from Humboldt University in Berlin has found that regular exercisers have positive feelings about working out, and it's this upbeat attitude that enables them to stick to their fitness goals.

According to the press release, studies have reported that an estimated 50 percent of gym members drop out within the first 6 months of a new exercise program, so researchers wondered if there was a reason that had not yet been explored which could account for such a high failure rate.

"Training plans are based on sport science, rather than psychological factors, and we thought that there must be a different way to analyze this behavior," Benjamin Wienke, the first author of the study and a doctoral student at Humboldt, said in the press release. "So we decided to look at whether there could be an emotional explanation."

The researchers talked to a group of 24 participants — both men and women — about their exercise habits, lifestyle, and preferred activities. Results showed that people with a regular exercise routine also had something else in common: enjoyment.

Wienke and his team also found that positive emotions about sporting activities translated into four major areas: perceived competence, perceived social interaction, novel experiences, and physical exertion. Participants reported that they found motivation both through trying new activities and through the reward of physical exertion.

So, now that we know a little more about workout motivation, what does it mean for the future of gym members and fitness enthusiasts? Wienke hopes to confirm these findings in a larger study group, but also believes that the incorporation of these four factors into exercise programs now could help people work out more regularly.

"This could be a starting point to change the focus of sport programs to finding what people love doing, with less focus on technical data like counting calories," he said in the press release. "These four factors could help increase adherence, and people would enjoy their programs more and achieve their goals better."

Source: Wienke B, Jekauc D. A Qualitative Analysis Of Emotional Facilitators In Exercise. Frontiers In Psychology. 2016.

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