Factors That Determine Long-Term Fitness Success

gym high five

A Review by Alyssa Bialowas

Public health interventions aim to change the behavior of an individual and promote positive change in a holistic approach to health. Health interventions are used in many stages of an individual’s path to health, with an increased focus on the prevention stage to offset disease. Fitness/Health behavior change in aging populations remains a challenge, and public health interventions are needed to combat sedentary lifestyles to promote holistic health. Health interventions at early stages of life can lead to long-term healthy behaviors.

A team of researchers out of the Netherlands analyzed the behavior of adults that attend fitness clubs, to determine whether a specific intervention can lead to health behavior change in individuals at various ages. They were interested in observing short-term as well as long-term effects.

Related Article: Think Positive Thoughts For A Better Workout

The Study

push up with coachParticipants in the study were between 18-70 years old, with no prior health conditions, and were members of a fitness club. 122 participants were included in the study to test the effects of two self-regulation interventions on group exercise behavior over 12 weeks. Overall, of the 122 participants, 67% were female and 33% were male. 42 participants were randomly assigned into group 1 with an average age of 42.24; 40 to group 2 with an average age of 41.53; and 40 to group 3 with an average age of 42.35.   

All participants underwent an exercise intervention at varying degrees of difficulty and instruction; various virtual classes or live classes coached by a certified instructor. Group 1 was the control group, and participants were given the intervention of the virtual indoor cycling program, with no other available choices. The first experimental group, group 2, were given multiple options in their exercise intervention, such as between the virtual classes and live classes, different types of classes that were either strength-based, cardio-based, or body/mind-based, and multiple instructors. The second experimental group, group 3, was given the same exercise options as group 2, and in addition received a monthly coaching protocol on motivation and self-directed goal setting. They received this coaching 4 times throughout the course of the study.

Related Article: 3 Strategies Behind Motivation & Sustained Fitness

The Results

Short-term exercise behavior was measured for 12 weeks, and significant differences in the number of exercise sessions were found between group 1 and 3, as well as in 2 and 3. Long-term relationships between the behavior intervention and exercise were also studied. During the period of 40 weeks, group 1 executed 114 sessions, group 2 hit 126 sessions, and group 3 hit 264 sessions.


Exercise adherence is very weak among individuals that lack motivation. Results from this study indicate that self-efficacy, goal setting and setting exercise intentions with fitness professional leads to long-term health and exercise patterns in adults.

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Middlekamp, J., Steenbergen, B., Van Rooijen, M., & Wolfhagen, P. (2017). “The

Effects of a Self-Efficacy Intervention on Exercise Behavior of Fitness

Club Members in 52 Weeks and Long-Term Relationships of

Transtheoretical Model Constructs.” Journal of Sports Science and

Medicine, 16, 163-171. 

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