Why Do You Exercise?

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When it comes to reasons for participating in physical activity, it appears men and women have distinct motivations

When it comes to reasons for participating in physical activity, it appears men and women have distinct motivations. In a recent study of American male and female college students, researchers found that female study participants were generally more interested in weight management, while male study participants looked for competition, challenge, and improved strength and endurance.

Different motivations translated into different activity preferences: men preferred sports, whereas women liked sports and exercise equally.

The study, published in the September/ October 2005 Journal of American College Health, also showed similarities between genders. Both men and women indicated that they used physical activity for stress management. They also saw exercise as a way to improve health, although men thought sport was equally beneficial for health.

The results of this study raise a concern about ongoing motivation. People who participate in sport often do so because they love it; that is, they enjoy the competition and challenge of the sport, which makes it easier for them to include it as a regular part of their lives. Others who exercise only to achieve a desired outcome, instead of because they enjoy the activity, often find it harder to adhere to an exercise routine.

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