A new study suggests that preferred exercise setting (gym vs. outdoors) may reveal details about personality traits. Published in The British Psychological Society, the study showed that extroverted individuals and those who rely on objective logic and/or regimens are more likely to prefer working out at the gym. On the other hand, creative people — particularly those who enjoy working with new ideas — as well as individuals who focus more on feelings and values rather than logic may be much better suited to outdoor activities such as cycling and running.
The most important piece of advice to come out of this research is that there is not one type of exercise that is suited to everyone.
– John Hackston, Lead Researcher
Although their may be external pressures for individuals to sign up for a gym membership or join the latest exercise fad, individuals that match their personality type with an exercise plan may see better results because it will be easier to adhere to the program. For employers looking to drive employee wellness success, this discovery may prove itself quite useful. For starters, the study further supports the need for employers to recognize that a one-size-fits-one solution will not work. For several reasons, including the one supported in the research, what works with one employee may not work with another.
Employers should facilitate rather than direct healthy living. This means providing the resources necessary for employees to engage in activities that are best suited for their personality. For diverse populations, a diverse set of resources will be needed. Also, many employers would be wise to rethink their gym reimbursement program. They can replace these programs with wellness reimbursements, which will allow employees to invest in the health and wellness activities that most appeal to them. For some, it will be used to offset their gym expenses, and for others, it may be for a new pair of running shoes.
Since many employers use personality tests in hiring and talent management, the findings in the study may also expand the value of their investments. Based on the results from their personality tests, employers can allocate their budget to reflect the population. The wellness benefits they offer can be calibrated to their population. For example, a company full of creatives may not want to invest in an onsite gym.
The study involved more than 800 individuals from a range of businesses across several countries. The findings are being presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference of the Division of Occupational Psychology in Stratford-upon-Avon.