Iowa State University Validating Widely Held Beliefs on Exercise Programs

Iowa State University is validating what most people already know: It’s easier to stick to an exercise program when you enjoy it.

“I don`t know how I feel about them doing the study or not,” said Matt Boeke, an ISU freshman. “To me, it seems obvious, but sometimes obvious things are disproven also.”

“It seems to make intuitive sense,” said Connie Hargrave, Associate Professor of InstrucSchool of Education at ISU. “It makes sense but the nice thing is that the research has been done that validates and actually provides evidence that by doing things that are fun, that makes exercise easier.”

The research is finding that exercising to look good or to lose weight simply isn't going to work in the long run.

Dr. Alison Philips, an assistant professor of psychology at ISU and the lead author of the new study looked at the relationship between exercise intentions, behaviors, rewards and habit strength.

But was a study really necessary? And isn't this a no-brainer?

“I’d say it`s obvious but these days people will study everything I guess because they`re running out of stuff to study maybe,” said Boeke.

As part of the study, thousands of dollars were spent paying participants to wear Fitbits.

Is that a waste of money?

”No, actually, it might seem that way, but a lot of the things that we know, what we know because somebody has studied that,” said Hargrave.

Over at Lifetime Athletic in Urbandale, personal trainer Andrew White says the research backs up what he knows to be true about exercise habits. If you don't enjoy it, you are not going to stick with it.

“You have to take a deep look at what you`re doing and say, is what I`m doing both achieving what I’m working at, does it make sense for me, as well as am I actually enjoying myself, am I going to care if I miss a day of working out or not eating right or anything like that. Ultimately if you`re not enjoying it you probably won`t care,” he said.

Despite the seemingly obvious nature of the study's findings, the author says there has been an amazing amount of resistance to her hypothesis and the results from both "habit researchers" and "motivation researchers.”