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Why People Exercise: Medical and Social Causes

Many people exercise nowadays since this trend has become popular due to the long-standing crisis associated with a sedentary lifestyle among US residents. By living a healthy lifestyle, people often mean regular exercise and a healthy diet. Moreover, scientists note that people most often consider exercise as a hobby or as part of their leisure time (Iso-Ahola, 2017). This paper aims to discuss some medical and social causes of why people exercise.

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Most people exercise because they want to be healthy and to stay fit and attractive. At the same time, scientists note that specific incentives most effectively influence starting exercise when people aim to stay fit and healthy. Specifically, Milfont et al. (2017) note that “people who are highly anxious about future consequences engage in exercise and healthy eating because they adopt a promotion orientation that reflects the degree to which people tend to achieve positive results” (p. 1202).

In other words, when making decisions about starting to exercise, people are most often guided by logical arguments about how much better their life in the future will become if they begin to exercise, including improvements in health, appearance, and well-being. The scientists imply that the focus on the future results and the general direction for the future are universal and do not depend on cultural differences. Therefore, when developing strategies to motivate people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, this information should be considered.

People want to stay healthy by starting exercise, but many people also like enjoying physical activity. Therefore, more and more individuals prefer practicing outdoor or green training. Calogiuri (2017) notes that “experiencing nature was generally considered the second most important motive for physical activity, second only to convenience motives, and this was especially important for older people and those who are more involved in instrumental physical activity” (p. 377).

According to a study, comfort, a sense of nature, physical health, and communication are common motives for outdoor exercise. Therefore, it is important to understand that green training is an additional motivating factor when deciding to start exercising.

Interestingly, despite the mental decisions and desires to be healthy and look attractive, not all people who begin exercising achieve stability in this practice. Scientists decided to investigate this phenomenon and came to unexpected conclusions. In particular, Iso-Ahola (2017) says that conscious and subconscious processes explain why some people are regular exercisers and others are not.

The scholar emphasizes that “beginners, if successful, will progress on a continuum from fully conscious processing and a little exercise (First Stage) to largely nonconscious processing and regular exercise (Third Stage)” (p. 1). It means that interconnected conscious and subconscious processes are activated when making decisions to start exercising.

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The struggle between these processes is the main reason why some people quit the regular physical activity. Scientists suggest that when analyzing decisions to begin exercising, one should consider temporal and social contexts since, for many people, exercise is part of their leisure time, which also includes the element of adherence or violation of free will. At the same time, regularity is associated with the tendency to follow the law of least effort.

Thus, some medical and social causes of why people exercise were discussed. Scientists believe that people start exercising because they have positive expectations of the future effects of physical activity. Additional motivation for exercise can be the enjoyment of practice in the fresh air, communication, a sense of comfort, and physical health. At the same time, people who make decisions about starting regular exercise activate conscious and subconscious processes, the struggle between which can create obstacles to regular physical activity.


Calogiuri, G., & Elliott, L. R. (2017). Why do people exercise in natural environments? Norwegian adults’ motives for nature-, gym-, and sports-based exercise. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(4), 377.

Iso-Ahola, S. E. (2017). Conscious‐nonconscious processing explains why some people exercise, but most don’t. Journal of Nature and Science, 3(6), e384.

Milfont, T. L., Vilar, R., Araujo, R. C., & Stanley, R. (2017). Does promotion orientation help explain why future-orientated people exercise and eat healthy? Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1202.

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