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Exercising judgment: The psychology of fitness
Date:1/9/2008

Its only been a few weeks since you made that New Years resolution to exercise more, but already youre finding reasons to skip days maybe even weeks.

You know all the benefits of a healthy lifestyle: In addition to the weight loss, which would obviously be nice, exercise has been linked to reduced depressive symptoms and reduced risk for heart disease. Yet the temptation of sitting on the couch and watching TV instead of going for a short jog is just too great.

Youre not alone. According to the surgeon general, more than 60 percent of American adults dont exercise regularly and 25 percent arent active at all. The Center for Disease Control says that 34 percent of Americans are overweight and more than 72 million people were obese from 2005 to 2006. Inertia has become a national emergency.

For decades, psychologists around the world have studied why people exercise and why they dont and theres a growing body of work dedicated to helping you get up off the couch.

Preferring to be sedentary is not necessarily an innate human trait. In fact, most children are actually quite active, and people generally stay active all the way through high school. But many of them stop being active when they reach college.

McMaster University (Ontario, Canada) psychologist Steven Bray noticed this trend and decided to look at what was stopping students from continuing physical activity during the transition to college. He tracked 127 students and found that most students in their first year of college do, in fact, participate in significantly less exercise than they did the year before.

Bray found that about a third of college students were active in high school and continued to stay active throughout their first year of college. Another third was active in high school but was no longer active after going to college. And the final third is made up of people who were inactive in high school, the majority of which sta
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Contact: Katie Kline
kkline@psychologicalscience.org
202-783-2077
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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