Do you know what really motivates people to exercise? Recently, researchers from the department of applied human sciences at
Concordia University in Montreal asked people from different age groups what pushed them to pump iron.

The scientists studied questionnaires from 1,885 people ranging in age from teenagers to 50 and older. The questionnaires, covering a variety of areas, including “personal style, activity interests, motives for exercising, and biosocial information,” were completed on touchscreens located in eight branches of the YMCA in Montreal.

Data analysis revealed four primary motivating factors associated with exercise: mental toughness, [becoming] toned and
fit, fun and friends, and stress reduction. “Toned and fit” was noted as a top motivating factor among all age groups. “Toned and fit” and “stress reduction” saw higher scores with increased age. The opposite was true for “mental toughness” and “fun and friends”—these factors scored lower with age.

The researchers believe that this information is valuable for fitness professionals and fitness business owners looking to attract more clients and exercise participants.

“We could easily translate our results into prescriptive recommendations for marketing fitness or for program planning,” the authors wrote, “but we prefer to ask a question which unfortunately our current research cannot answer: What will it take to increase passionate relationships with physical pursuits at all ages of the lifespan? Or, perhaps as a more modest goal, what needs to happen for individuals to maintain their view of the world of sports and exercise as a place where they can be nourished in mind, body and spirit?”

Do you have answers to these questions? Send your responses to [email protected] The report was published in the International Journal of Wellbeing (2014; 4 [1], 46–61).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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