This Wikibooks page is a critical appraisal of the research article “Understanding exercise adherence and dropout: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of men and women’s accounts of gym attendance and non-attendance” by Pridgeon, L. and Grogan, S. (2011).
What is the background to this research?
Low participation in physical activity (PA) has become one of the leading global health concerns. A primary contributing factor to low PA is a lack of motivation, which often leads to a cease in exercise. The decline in participation often begins in adolescence  but is still far from a rarity in adult groups, especially with gym adherence.
Various reasons including time, motivation, financial problems, and boredom have been noted as common reason that lead to gym dropouts. Men and women are shown to have different motivations that lead to their interest in exercise. Women have shown a more positive understanding in the health benefits of PA, whereas men see exercise as less of a priority. Many adults find beginning PA easier when extrinsic motivation is a factor, but most participants cease exercise once the incentive has been obtained. These individuals have lower levels of intrinsic motivation meaning the continuation of PA is less prevalent.
The study undertaken in this article questions males and females in two groups, separated into whether they continued or discontinued adhering to a gym routine, with the goal of finding common themes between the groups.
Where is the research from?
This study was conducted by Lisa Pridgeon and supervised by Sarah Grogan through Staffordshire University. Their article was published as a part of the ‘Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health’ journal, Volume 4 – Issue 3. Pridgeon’s interests focus on qualitative research methods with this study being part of her MSc Health Psychology.
What kind of research was this?
This research is classified as Qualitative research, due to its literacy-based findings and descriptive explanations of the results. There was no numerical data collected, only responses that were expanded on to understand similar themes. The experiment was interest-based, as the researcher was motivated by the discrepancy between her own, and less inspired people’s lifestyles. This method proved effective for the chosen research.
What did the research involve?
14 participants aged 19-32 years old; seven men and two women who had maintained their current gym membership, and three women and two men did not.
The information was collected using an Interpretative phenomenological analysis. This methodology helps understand a person’s thoughts and feelings on a matter by listening to accounts of their personal experiences. Face-to-face interviews were conducted and recorded with a digital recorder. A questionnaire and consent forms were completed, then the interview proceeded by following a set of guiding questions which accurately obtained participant information.
What were the basic results?
Results were split into 5 themes; three shared between the two groups, one discussed by adheres only and one discussed by non-adheres only.
The three themes that were common to both groups were Upward Social Comparison, Culture and Habit. The adherer specific theme was Exercise Dependency, whilst the non-adherer theme was Social Support. Each theme was created into a subheading, followed by relevant quotes, interpretations and supporting literature. Different attitudes between each group are notable when describing motivation and lack-there-of.
Validation seemed to be the strongest motivator for adherence. Validation from others then self-validation in achieving “goals” and what they see as a healthy “addictive” lifestyle. The opposite view is evident in the non-adherers, as they seem to validate others above themselves, resulting in poor attendance and body dissatisfaction, especially in women.
What conclusions can we take from this research?
This study is a sound resource that provides great insight into the thought processes behind exercise adherence. As the trend of global inactivity increases, research involving motivation and drop-out numbers will become more valuable in educating relevant groups. The effectiveness of this study shows the benefit of a literature style alternative to data collection, increasing the reach to people non-responsive to numeric data. This article provides a great understanding of exercise adherence in both men and women.
A larger sample size would give a more accurate conclusion if the relevant themes were still commonly addressed with larger participation. Following up with additional participants could provide greater post-interview developments, due to one of the two follow up participants suffering an injury. The intrigue would be based on non-forced drop-out rates, so additional follow up’s with healthy participants would be advantageous.
- Pridgeon, L. Grogan, S. (2011), Understanding exercise adherence and dropout: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of men and women’s accounts of gym attendance and non-attendance, Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health Volume 4, 2012 – Issue 3, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2159676X.2012.712984.
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