What factors lead to better ‘stickability’ to a weight training program?

The Introduction

1000517.jpgDid you know that most people who join a gym leave after three months, despite paying a yearly fee? Historically, the fitness industry relied on this fact to make their money. These days with greater regulation, gyms can’t take advantage of this with ‘cooling off’ periods and shorter time options available to members. The more professional centres also employ great staff whose job it is to keep members engaged with their exercise programs. But what are the factors that research has shown are the keys to ‘sticking with’ an exercise program in the gym? Recent American research on older women doing weight training highlights the importance of many factors including the quality of the instructors.

The Research

This study examined the factors related to older women’s adherence to strength training after participation in the StrongWomen Program, a nationally disseminated community program in the United States. Adherence was defined as ≥4 months of twice-weekly strength training. Surveys were sent to 970 program participants from 23 American states and to the participants’ corresponding program leaders.

The Results

Of respondents who completed surveys, 79% adhered to strength training. These adherers reported a mean of 14.1 ± 9.1 months of strength training. Statistical analysis revealed that exercise adherence was positively associated with age (the older people were the more likely they were to stick with it), higher lifetime physical activity levels (the longer people had been active in their lives, the more likely to stay with it), better perceived health (the healthier they felt they were the better adherence), leader’s sports participation (the more active an instructor was the better the adherence), and leader’s prior experience leading programs.

The So What?

These results strongly suggest that long term active adults who have good health should choose a gym or personal trainer who have / has a wealth of experience in weight training and is well-respected as an athlete or exerciser in their own right. Given the importance of weight training to maintain muscle mass and health in older athletes, when you are thinking of starting a weights program, look out for the experienced and accredited trainers who are known to practice what they preach.

Seguin, R., Economos, C., Palombo, R. and others. (2010). Strength training and older women: a cross-sectional study examining factors related to exercise adherence. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.18(2): 201-218.

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