Your exercise personality quiz

So you want to start exercising. Good! But before you buy new walking shoes, join a gym, or drag out your stationary bike, take this quiz to identify your unique "exercise personality" traits. This information will help you decide what types of physical activity you're most likely to enjoy and stick with.

Note that there are no right or wrong answers, and there are interpretations every few questions to help you apply what you've learned.

Choose the answers below that best describe you.

Why?

1. My main motivation for exercising is to:

a. look better
b. feel better
c. be healthier
d. lose weight
e. other:

2. I am motivated by rewards like:

a. visual graphs and numbers
b. money or prizes
c. intangibles, like increased energy or better sleep

It's important to identify your reason(s) for exercising. Write your fitness goals using positive, powerful, measurable terms to keep yourself focused and inspired. Be specific about the results you want and the rewards you'll get when you achieve your goals. For example, if you're motivated to become healthier and you like to see tangible results, you could make a graph that tracks your resting heart rate and blood pressure. If looking better or losing weight are your goals but may take a while to see, you could "pay" yourself a dollar every time you work out to buy yourself a CD or clothing. Even if you enjoy less tangible rewards, be specific about the results you seek.

How?

3. Time for exercise:

a. is not a problem
b. is a challenge but can be arranged when I make it a priority
c. is last on my list

4. I'd exercise more if it wasn't for:

a. the time it takes to get to the gym and back
b. family commitments
c. work
d. the cost of a gym membership or equipment

5. I stay on track best when:

a. I set a goal to work out most days of the week but stay flexible about when
b. I write my workout schedule in my appointment calendar
c. I know someone else is expecting me to be there

6. When I decide to do something:

a. I have a hard time getting started
b. I stick with it unless it becomes inconvenient
c. I make it happen no matter what

The reality is that making the commitment to invest time, money and energy in becoming more active is never easy. When you know what makes it easier and anticipate what could get in your way, you can plan to work around those challenges. For example, if you're concerned about taking time away from your family you could involve them in your workouts, exercise during your workday, or decide that the time it takes will pay off because you're healthier and less stressed.

When?

7. I feel most energetic and alert in the:

a. morning
b. afternoon
c. evening

8. In the past, exercise has worked best:

a. when I do it early in the day before other things get in my way
b. when I do it at work during my breaks or lunch hour
c. when I stop in at the gym on my way home so I don't have to go back out again
d. when I do it after dinner to unwind or when I have help with the kids

Plan your workouts during your peak energy times when you're most likely to do it. Make it easier on yourself by scheduling a time when it's most convenient.

Where?

9. I love to be:

a. at home
b. outdoors
c. in an exercise environment

10. When people look at me:

a. I'm self-conscious and embarrassed
b. I just ignore them
c. I'm flattered

If you enjoy being at home, use exercise videos, a treadmill, a stationary bike, or a home gym. If you are more of an outdoors-type, you'll enjoy walking, hiking, bike riding or sports. If you need a designated exercise space and don't mind having other people around, join a gym or studio.

Who?

11. I prefer to be:

a. by myself
b. with a friend or partner
c. in a group where I know everyone
d. anonymous in an crowd

12. I need:

a. to exercise at my own pace
b. the support of a friend or partner
c. the accountability of showing up to a class or lesson
d. to be pushed by a trainer or teacher

If you prefer to be alone, choose activities like walking, biking, or exercise videos. If you enjoy being with one or two other people, invite someone to walk, hike, play tennis or go to the gym with you. If you enjoy socializing while you exercise, consider joining a sports team, signing up for a class, or arranging classes at church or at work. If you prefer to workout with strangers, join a large gym for weight training, spin classes, or other group exercise. If you need accountability and support, sign up for a class or a work out buddy or personal trainer to come to your home or meet you at the gym.

What?

13. I am:

a. easily bored
b. a creature of habit

14. I really like:

a. technical gadgets like monitors and tracking programs
b. a real physical workout so I don't have to think about anything
c. creative or artistic expression

15. When it comes to competition,

a. it makes me feel stressed
b. I like to challenge myself
c. a little is healthy and fun
d. I am very competitive

There are many different forms of physical activity, so the challenge is finding several that suit your preferences. For example, if you're a gadget guru, you might like a fancy pedometer or gyms equipped with high-tech monitors on all the machines to track your progress. If you enjoy artistic expression, you may enjoy yoga or dance. If you thrive on competition, look for team sports or competitive events like races; you can also challenge competitive friends to play racquetball, tennis, or other sports. If you enjoy challenging yourself, set goals and consider purchasing devices that help you monitor incremental changes. If you don't like competition, but like to be with others, look for classes and gyms with a supportive environment.

The Exercise Personality Quiz is an excerpt from Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle by Michelle May, M.D. (download chapter one free). Michelle May, M.D. is also the founder of the Am I Hungry? ® Mindful Eating Workshops and Facilitator Training Program that helps individuals learn to break free from mindless and emotional eating.