Enjoyment as a Predictor of Exercise Habit, Intention to Continue Exercising, and Exercise Frequency

This study examines the factors that lead to a better understanding of the intention-behaviour gap in gym exercise and dropout rates. The results from the study of 237 subjects from nine gyms in Portugal suggest that the assessment and adaptation of exercise planning and monitoring of exercise intensity and load need to be considered in order to improve exercise behaviour and client loyalty. The study suggests thinking about processes for assessing exercise and methods for monitoring exercisers so that better counselling and adaptation of activities can take place at an individual level.  

The basis of this study is recent approaches that highlight pleasure and fun as relevant factors to explain exercise behaviour in fitness clubs. Fun seems to be an important predictor of intention to continue exercising and of exercise habits and fidelity. Thus, the focus of this study is the finding on exercise intensity: an increase in exercise intensity is generally associated with more enjoyable experiences, up to the point where intensity tends to lead to less enjoyment and more discomfort. In addition, the point at which exercise intensity negatively affects pleasure appears to vary widely across individuals, highlighting the need to better understand how this inflection point can be influenced by pleasurable experiences. 

Exercise supervision and training plans should focus on promoting the pleasurable component of pleasure and have positive associations with exercise, according to the authors. Thus, this can help beginners develop a more appropriate relationship between exercise and body sensations, which can affect the development of enjoyment of exercise, habit and intention to continue exercising. Conversely, this also applies to more experienced exercisers and adapted high intensities. It is postulated that dropping out of the gym in the early months can be attributed to inadequate professional coaching and supervision. Understanding intensity characteristics in training practice and appropriate professional supervision may be relevant to the intended promotion of training fidelity.