This Study Explains Why You Struggle to Get Motivated to Work Out

Your specific personality traits manifest in your patterns of thinking, feeling and your behaviour. A new study has found that personality traits can also influence whether or not you find it hard to motivate yourself to exercise.

Researchers from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland analysed data from 314 men and women aged 70 to 85 and 1,098 women aged 47 to 55 years old. In the study, researchers focused on two personality traits: extroversion and neuroticism.

Generally speaking, those who scored high in extroversion were found to be active, social and quite talkative. Those who scored highly for neuroticism, on the other hand, had a tendency to experience anxiety and self-pity, says Science Daily.

The data showed that women who scored higher in extroversion self-reported to be more active than their activity tracker recorded. Meanwhile, those prone to neuroticism self-reported less physical activity (and more leisure time) as did their activity trackers.

“Even though both methods assess the frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity, they measure partly different aspects of physical activity,” postdoctoral researcher, Tiia Kekäläinen, said.

“Activity monitors are better at capturing all daily stepping activities whereas self-reporting better accounts for all types of physical activities. Therefore, it is natural that results are partly different between different physical activity measures. It is important to use both ways to assess physical activity behaviour.”

Your personality traits can also influence how you assess your own physical activity. The researchers found that older adults scoring high in neuroticism reported less physical activity than what their activity trackers measured.

“Neuroticism describes a predisposition to experience negative feelings,” Kekäläinen said. “In addition to lower willingness to participate in physical activities, this kind of tendency seems to be related to underreporting physical activity behaviour. The information about the role of personality could be used to help identify risk groups for inactivity and in physical activity promotion work.”

Overall, the extroverted women in the study were found to be more active than those who fell into the neuroticism category. But, this isn’t bad news for those who identify as neutronic.

It’s simply a good look at how even your personality can help or hinder your exercise efforts. Finding a type of exercise that you enjoy means it will feel less like a chore and more enjoyable.

Plus, you can’t forget about those endorphins! Exercise has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression by 55% — which is massive if you’re inclined to depressive feelings.

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