As I continue studying to be a group fitness instructor, I am finding myself concerned about the fact that much of the populace will not commit to an exercise program. In recognizing this unpleasant reality and the fact that it can contribute to the decline of an individual’s health, I think it is important for people interested in wellness to understand the factors that can influence exercise program retention so that they can attain long-lasting health. Here are three factors that can influence exercise program retention:
1. Locus of Control.
In defining the locus of control, the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual states that it is “the degree to which people attribute outcomes to internal factors, such as effort and ability, as opposed to external factors, such as luck or the actions of others” (377). In short, the term references an individual’s perceived ability to control various outcomes of their lives. The Manual also points out that adults who believe they have personal control over their health outcomes are more likely to engage in unsupervised exercise (124).
2. Social Support.
In discussing various factors that will lead an individual to stick with an exercise program, the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual notes that social support plays a role. Although defined broadly, social support is basically the perceived esteem, caring, help, and comfort that an individual receives from others. According to the manual, it is difficult for a person to adhere to a workout program if they do not have support from home (125). Thus if you are interested in starting an exercise routine, you may find it advantageous to think critically about individuals who will support your healthy lifestyle choice and draw strength from their approval. You may also benefit from detaching yourself from people who will subtly or overtly sabotage your fitness program.
Although you might not think that the intensity level of a workout affects an individual’s willingness to stick to a routine, it does. In stating this, the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual notes that “the drop-out rate in vigorous-intensity exercise programs is almost twice as high as in moderate-intensity activity programs” (125). This information is valuable for both fitness instructors and individuals who are interested in getting fit. As for fitness instructors, those who choose to design and facilitate high intensity exercise programs should not fret upon witnessing low retention rates. And if you are an individual who wants to start and adhere to an exercise program, you may want to start with a low or moderate level of intensity so the challenge of a vigorous workout does not discourage you and contribute to a decision to cease pursuing physical fitness.
If you are thinking seriously about beginning an exercise program in order to improve your health, you should be aware of the factors that can contribute to and complicate your willingness to do so. By being aware of these factors, you can make the changes necessary to increase the likelihood that you will begin and adhere to a fitness program that can help you obtain optimum wellness. Good luck!
Bryant, Cedric, Daniel J. Green, and Sabrena Merrill. ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual. San Diego: American Council on Exercise, 2011.
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