Personality tests have been used for a long time to help people find the perfect job, but understanding your exercise personality can also help you identify sports and activities that are right for you, meaning you’re more likely to enjoy it and stick at it.
Being motivated to exercise, getting good at a particular activity or sport, and genuinely enjoying physical activity relies a lot on choosing the right exercise or sport for you. Your personality has a direct impact on your everyday lifestyle choices and behaviour, so why shouldn’t it affect your physical self? It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing exercise that’s convenient, easy, and familiar. But it’s worth taking time to think about what sort of person you are, and therefore what activity might suit you best, enabling you to maximise your potential in it, and be the best athlete you can. We consider four key personality traits so you can identify where you fit in, and how that could affect your choice of activity, and success at it.
High – Highly competitive personality types tend to be very independently minded and self confident. Winning is the strongest motivator in all areas of their lives and they are likely to have jobs with direct reward for their efforts. They prefer to be free to act independently of others and control their own work. Tennis is a good sport for competitive people since they don’t have to rely on others for success and can get points quickly for successful playing and well thought out tactics. Running races, squash and boxing are all other types of activity which suit competitive types.
Low – At the other end of the spectrum, people that shy away from competiveness long for harmony and cooperation. Winning is not a priority, and little importance is given to it. Sports or activities with a strong social element will be more popular, and teamwork, sharing, and encouragement are a driving force. They prefer activities where there is no requirement to compare him or herself to others or to improve on previous performance. Low stake sports like volleyball and fun exercises such as group aerobics and dance classes will appeal to people with this temperament.
Introverts or extroverts
Introverts – Introverts tend to value their own company and time alone. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy the company of others, just happy to go without it. Introverts tend to focus on the task at hand, and place less importance on the people around them and their relationships with them. Long distance running, yoga, hiking, rock climbing and swimming are all activities that are likely to be enjoyed by introverts as it provides solitary ‘me’ time, and time to think. Exercise such as swimming also allows them to focus on their technique and improve purely for their own benefit, regardless of what those around them are doing.
Extroverts – For extroverts life is all about engaging with others, and they are likely to enjoy a wide range of sports as long as other people are involved! They might like running groups, basketball or other ball game leagues, rowing clubs, and working out with a personal trainer.
Perfectionists – perfectionists tend to be self-disciplined and focus on the details of a task or activity, and thrive in an environment with structure, rules and logic. Sports where the detail matters, such as golf, are important to them, or workouts where their form and posture can be worked on and improved upon such as yoga and Pilates. Activities where progress can be tracked are also good, for example, running on the treadmill where calories burned can be measured.
Non-perfectionists – non-perfectionists tend to look at the bigger picture, will have a multitude of reasons for doing an activity, and are not afraid of risk or change. The end result whether it be fun, losing weight or improving fitness is all that matters and it doesn’t really matter how they get there. They are likely to enjoy experimenting and focus on ‘general concepts’ leaving others to figure out the details. Anything where creativity and spontaneity is allowed or even encouraged such as dance classes, roller skating, ice skating, or running is best suited for this personality type.
Low patience – people with minimal levels of patience can be impulsive, and tend to add a sense of urgency to tasks. They are experts in multitasking but don’t always stick with an activity. Sports or exercise where outcomes or opposing players may change are well suited to these types. For example, circuit training, interval training or sports such as triathlon, tennis or basketball. The gym in general is always a good bet since there is a variety of workouts choose from, as well as different group exercise classes.
High patience – people with an abundance of patience are more likely to appreciate consistent routine, and don’t mind how long a task might take to reach their goals. They tend to need set goals and a programme outlining how to get there, and are put off by time pressures. Martial arts suit individuals like this, as well as exercise classes that meet each week and build upon previous success and improvements. Exercise that can be done on a daily basis and become part of a routine is also likely to be preferred by high patience individuals, such as jogging or walking.
Of course, when considering your personality type it is very unlikely that you will fall into one specific group each time, and you will display a mix of different traits at different times and in different situations. Don’t let this put you off! It’s easy to try different things, and many gyms, sports clubs and groups offer trial sessions and beginners classes. If you’ve always found it a struggle to stay active and be motivated, maybe with a bit of research and trial and error, you could change this pattern and get to the top of your game.
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