Growing up, my mom always told me that there are two kinds of people in the world: those that do things because they want to win, and those that do things because they don’t want to get in trouble for not doing them. I fall firmly in the second category, which means that I only do things—like exercise and eat well—to avoid things like health problems or a doctor’s scolding. Is it because I enjoy it? Definitely not. As it turns out, those personality groups can determine the kind of exercise that’s right for your personality.
Though the data is hardly definitive for all people, a new paper by Margaret Schneider, a researcher at the University of California, Irvine, investigates a link between physical activity and two kinds of personality systems: behavioral activation (BAS) and behavioral inhibition (BIS). People with the BAS type are motivated by rewards, like winning a race, which people with high BIS scores are more sensitive to negative cues like sweating, breathing hard, or increased heart rate.
The kind of exercise best suited to each kind of person varies, then. People who are very social and reward-seeking are more likely to enjoy group sports or team classes, while less social reward-seekers may enjoy things like yoga or swimming more.
James Gavin, Ph.D., a professor of applied human sciences at Montreal’s Concordia University, created a chart with recommended activities for seven different personality types. The chart is meant to help people find the right kind of physical activity for their personality type, to encourage people to find the right exercise regimen that will keep them healthy. To be able to match a workout with a personality, “there had to be a way to describe a physical activity on the same dimensions as a personality,” Gavin explained. So he created the language that was missing.
The chart suggests an exercise for each kind of person, from social to aggressive to non-risk-seeking.
“Whoever we are, we manifest that in all of the realms of our life,” Gavin explained. “physical activity is just another expression of our personal preferences and style.”
Take the quiz and see if you can find the right exercise for you! (For me, it recommends walking or swimming. Sounds good to me!)