Resistance Training Improves Exercise Motivation

A study by the University of Jyväskylä suggests that exercise motivation is improved in people who take up resistance training.

Motivation factors into almost any discussion of approaches to planning for workouts and training programs. It cuts across all trainee levels, from the novice to the hardened enthusiast. For older adults, resistance training is increasingly seen as one of the best ways to provide an aging population with the tools it needs to maintain muscle strength and functional capacity.

And while older adults are recommended to perform resistance exercises at least twice a week, only a few meet these recommendations. Sedentary lifestyles sap the willpower of many and exacerbate the decline in psychological functioning and mental health that comes with age.

Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä1 conducted a study to investigate the effects of a 9-month supervised resistance training intervention on motivation and volitional characteristics related to exercise meaning, they took a look at how resistance training intervention changed these characteristics in older adults and contributed to a self-directed continuation of resistance training one year after the intervention.

The study involved 104 healthy 65-75-year-olds who did not meet physical activity guidelines for endurance exercise at baseline and did not have previous resistance training experience.

Given nine months of regular resistance training increased the intrinsic motivation for both training and physical activity in general: the subjects started to enjoy exercising. Additionally, exercise planning increased, indicating that the subjects started to think about how to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle.

After completing the supervised resistance training intervention, nearly half of the participants (46%) continued resistance training independently. Approximately half of them participated in resistance training on average once-a-week during the following year and the other half twice-a-week. Participants who increased their intrinsic motivation for exercise and exercise self-efficacy during the intervention were more likely to continue resistance training twice-a-week.

The results suggest that finding intrinsic motivation for exercise and increasing confidence to maintain a physically active lifestyle contribute to continuing resistance training independently. These factors should be taken into account in exercise interventions and exercise in general to promote the continuance of behavior.

Of course, you could also say that less than half of the participants remained committed to continuing on their newly acquired strength training path, but next January, check out the membership of your local gym at the beginning of the month and then again at the end of the month. Forty-six percent seems pretty good if you ask us.


1. T. Kekäläinen, K. Kokko, T. Tammelin, S. Sipilä, S. Walker. Motivational characteristics and resistance training in older adults: A randomized controlled trial and 1-year follow-up. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 2018