It’s no secret that your character traits directly affect how you interact with the world ― but you might be surprised at just how deep it goes. It includes how you work out.
Personality research and experts on the subject say your personality and even your mood can play a pivotal role in how you exercise. This not only includes your preferred method of working out, but how easily you’re able to reach weight loss goals and how dedicated you are to physical activity.
Of course, the hard science on personality types isn’t exactly definitive. But knowing your personality habits can be key to overcoming certain behavioral roadblocks (including those that lead to not working out).
Curious where you stack up? Below is a breakdown of just a few personality types and how they may be influencing your fitness goals, along with tips on how to make those traits work for you:
Highly sensitive people may be more averse to group exercise classes or team sports to avoid feeling like their every move is being scrutinized, according to researchers. Additionally, they may feel more upset over an ineffective or poor workout, says Elaine Aron, a researcher focusing on highly sensitive people and author of The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.
“Since they have stronger emotional responses, they might gain more pleasure from a good workout ― and be more discouraged if they have a ‘bad’ one, compared to others, whatever that would be,” Aron says.
The fix: Researchers also say that solo or non-competitive activities like biking, running and hiking ― all of which come with amazing health benefits ― may be more up a highly sensitive person’s alley.
Type A individuals can have an “all or nothing approach” to exercise, according to Stephanie Mansour, a Chicago-based certified personal trainer and weight loss coach. The personality type is known for sticking to a rigid plan, not to mention that they’re super competitive (within themselves and with others).
This can cause them to stay too beholden to a fitness routine, which means they might try to push past an injury or not tweak their workout to fit their actual needs, Mansour says.
“It’s good to have a plan, but it’s also important to connect with how your body is actually feeling,” she says.
The fix: Type A people don’t have to ditch their plan entirely, but they should be aware that a strict adherence to it may impede their progress.
For example, if they continue to run on the treadmill despite a knee strain, they may end up creating a bigger injury for themselves that might completely ruin their training goals, Mansour says. Or, if they follow a specific workout plan and are not seeing results, they shouldn’t continue to follow the plan anyway, despite advice they may have seen.
“What’s important is you have some flexibility to adjust the workout so it fits best for you,” Mansour says. “Think of it as a road map, but ultimately you’re driving the car.”
This laid-back group can have the opposite issue of Type A people, Mansour says. Type B individuals may get too lax about their workout routines, which may prevent them from seeing results.
“Type B’s usually need more of a workout plan, especially if they’re not super detail-oriented,” she explains, adding that they may not want to devote as much energy as they should to their fitness goals, especially if it’s a point of stress for them.
The fix: Type B people should put themselves in positions where they’ll be more inclined to work out harder, Mansour says.
“For example, I would say go to the front of the room if you’re doing something like a group workout class,” Mansour advises.
Type B individuals also thrive in creative and collaborative environments, so a workout class that tailors to those strengths may also be useful. (Team sports, anyone?)
The Bottom Line
This is by no means an exhaustive list of personality traits and there are plenty of ways you can adapt a fitness plan to fit your needs, regardless of your characteristics. Ultimately, your mind and your will decide how successful you are at an exercise routine. (As a reminder, the recommended amount per week is around 150 minutes.)
If you’re looking for some other options, check out these killer workouts to try based on your mood. Additionally, here’s more information on how to pick a workout that fits your personality type.
Because nothing should hold you back from hitting those goals ― especially not yourself.