A recent study suggests that individuals who plan ahead and work on meeting their goals are more likely to participate in exercise compared to those who do not plan for the future.
A team of researchers from the University of Oregon’s Department of Psychology evaluated the association between playfulness and physical activity in 282 individuals for a period of 20 weeks. "There indeed appears to be a certain way of thinking about goals that correlate with long-term progress," said the corresponding author, Rita Ludwig. "What's new in this study is that we used an objective measure of goal progress that could be recorded as participants naturally went about their lives: their check-ins at a local gym."
The research team measured the participants’ physical activity on the basis of the number of times they visited the university’s recreation center after enrolling for the study which commenced at the beginning of the academic year 2018. Furthermore, in addition to a personality test (Big Five Inventory), the participants self-reported their exercise plan, self-control, grit, and also attempted the 30-item Planfulness Scale set by the researchers.
The researchers observed a consistent decline in gym attendance among all participants over the course of the study, however, individuals who had rated themselves higher on planfulness attended the gym more consistently compared to those who rated themselves lower on the scale. "This work is broadly informative for those who are curious about how people pursue health goals, including their own patterns of thought around goals. Clinicians might find it helpful in understanding how their patients tend to think about goals and whether person-to-person differences in such thinking are related to outcomes," the authors stated.
The authors also pointed out that it was expected that people who planned ahead and successfully met their plans would be able to have better clarity about their 'planning process', however, no association was found between "people's goal pursuit behavior and how they wrote about their goals."
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