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Researchers from the Concordia University investigated the motivations people have when engaging in physical activity and how they have varied across the lifespans of different individuals. The study published in the International Journal of Wellbeing took a total of 1885 individuals who completed comprehensive questionnaires that were concerned with personal style, activity interests, motives for exercising, and biosocial information.
The researchers used exploratory factor analysis to measure intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that were related to participation in exercise. The factors were labeled in four ways: mental toughness (defined as embracing activity for its adventure and challenge), toned and fit, fun and friends (defined as social motivations), and stress reduction. The results portrayed no surprising comments as the most common motivation for exercise was being toned and fit across all age brackets that ranged from teens to 50 plus.
With an increase in age the factors, toned and fit and stress reduction, reveled higher motivation towards exercising. This came with a decline in the other two factors as age increased. Older adults seem to be more motivated by gratification of preserving or building their fitness levels and heath than by any joy in doing it just for the sake of enjoying it.