Exercise Adherence and the Struggle for Nogymber

Emilee M. Bounds, Timothy Baghurst


Approximately 20% of the almost 323 million people in the United States participate in regular exercise. Of those who have attempted to initiate an exercise program, only 50% are successful in becoming regular exercisers, and most will drop out from a new year’s program well before the “ember” months. Consequently, Americans struggle not only to commence regular exercise, but maintain it. Understanding the reasoning and behaviors of those who do and do not begin and adhere to exercise becomes valuable in developing strategies and programming that will lead to higher levels of exercise adherence. Accordingly, the purpose of this article is to examine exercise adherence through the lens of the Public Health Model known as the Social Ecological Model. The Social Ecological Model acknowledges an interaction of health-related behaviors at five different levels: individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy. Developing support or programming recommendations for exercise behaviors at each level in the Social Ecological Model could potentially positively influence exercise adherence. An understanding of exercise history, appropriate exercise prescription, combined with a facilitation of traditional barriers to exercise as well as an improvement in exercise self-efficacy could assist individual exercise adherence. When individual desire to exercise is combined with support in each aspect of the Social Ecological Model, exercise adherence should increase, progressing individuals to exercise well into the Nogymber months.

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