- According to a recent study, the more goal-oriented you are, the more likely you are to exercise.
- Setting goals and making concrete plans to achieve them can help boost your performance and race results.
Our personality traits dictate who we are in aspects of our life—from how you do your job to how you interact with your friends and family. So it’s no surprise that our personality traits carry over into our running life, too.
According to recent research out of the University of Oregon, the more goal oriented you are, the more likely you are to engage in physical activity.
In the study, published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers first asked 282 participants to fill out a survey that included four personality scales—the Planfulness Scale, the Brief Self-Control Scale, the Big Five Inventory-2, and the Grit Scale. Participants answered each question on a scale of 1 to 5—1 being that the participants strongly disagreed with the statement and 5 being that the participants strongly agreed with the statement.
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Questions included things like: “Developing a clear plan when I have a goal is important to me,” “I am good at resisting temptation,” “Is systematic, likes to keep things in order,” and “I finish whatever I begin.”
Next, participants had to answer a free-response question about what their exercise goals were and how they might plan to achieve them.
Participants had access to the University of Oregon’s rec center and researchers monitored how often they swiped their ID card to exercise there within the span of 20 weeks (two college semesters).
Here’s what they found: While everyone who participated in the study went to the gym more in the beginning of the semester than they did at the end, those who gave themselves high scores on the Planfulness Scale—for instance, “developing a clear plan when I have a goal is important to me”—went to the gym more during both semesters than those who gave themselves low scores on the Planfulness Scale.
Specifically, for every one point someone scored themselves on the Planfulness Scale, they went to the gym 5.9 more times during the fall semester and 8.5 more times during the winter semester.
The more planful people are, the more likely they are to follow through on their goals, according to lead study author Rita Ludwig, Ph.D.(c), of the University of Oregon’s department of psychology.
“Being planful includes things like setting concrete steps to reach a goal, being willing to make sacrifices now for future rewards, and using the goal as motivation to overcome obstacles to success,” she said. “It may be that seeing how your everyday actions contribute to your long-term goal is the key to making progress and ultimately achievement.”
According to Ludwig, runners who exhibit planfulness in their everyday lives might stick to their training plans more and see better race results.
“Participants in our study included people who were trying to improve their running performance or prepare for upcoming marathons. Regardless of the specific goal, planful athletes more frequently went to the gym to make progress towards it,” she said.
Below, Ludwig offers a few tips on how to best execute planfulness in your daily life:
- Set a specific goal.
- Maintain focus on your goal.
- Be mindful about how your everyday actions can either help or hinder your progress.
“Taking the time to intentionally plan may be beneficial for athletes who want to achieve a certain level of performance,” she said. “Long-term goal pursuit is, after all, a marathon— not a sprint.”