Match your workout to your personality?

Fitness / Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Tired of jogging, spin class or weightlifting? You may think that motivation is not a strong suite. But it could just be that you’re doing the wrong exercise based on your personality

Believe or not, your disposition plays a huge part in the success of your workout journey. It’s probably one of the reasons you enjoy that Zumba class alone so much more than a Yoga session with your friends. Research has shown that our personality, and even mood can dictate what we enjoy.


Fortunately, there are as many workouts as there are personality types, which makes it easy to find a training style that fits your lifestyle.


James Gavin, an applied human sciences professor at Concordia University has stated that that “physical activity is an expression of our personal style and preference.”


Gavin has spent a majority of his career researching the overlap between activity and personality, and while data isn’t set-in-stone, there are ways to assess the best workout for someone’s personality. Some of which depends on personal preference and stress response.

There’s additional research backing this though: A paper by Margaret Schneider, researcher at University of California. Irvine, discovered a link between “physical activity and two specific personality systems, behavioral activation (BAS) and behavioral inhibition (BIS).”


Basically, a higher BAS score indicates that the person is more motivated by reward — such as winning a race. Whereas, a lower BIS score means you’d be more motivated to avoid punishment. So, a person with a lower BIS score is sensitive to negative feelings, such as sweating, breathing hard and increased heart rate.

In short: how you’re wired defines how you view your workout.

What workout should I do?

Like research has stated, there’s no specific answer. But, there are a couple of general guidelines you can follow to implement the best regimen based on personality.


Workout for introverts:

Exercise for you is to clear your head. Scientists recommend activities like endurance sports (swimming, running, cycling), one-on-one personal training, golf, or mind-body focused workouts like yoga and pilates. These workouts are more process oriented, wherein, you focus on bettering yourself each day — it allows introverts to feel comfortable.

Workout for extroverts:

High-intensity workouts are your best bet. Zumba, sprinting, weightlifting — it’s all good. Fitness meetups like hiking and trekking, yoga in the park and team sports are also viable options for the social person.

But, there are always going to be exceptions to this rule. An extrovert may enjoy solitude by putting on headphones and jogging in the middle of the night. “An individual’s specific intention for his or her workout may lead them to fall outside the basic parameters”, says Jessica Matthews, senior advisor for the American Council on Exercise.

Regardless, the world is your oyster. Now go out there and enjoy working out!

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