Personality factors differentially predict exercise behavior in men and women.

H. C. Siegler, J. A. Blumenthal, J. C. Barefoot, B. L. Peterson, W. B. Saunders, W. G. Dahlstrom, P. T. Costa, E. C. Suarez, M. J. Helms, K. E. Maynard, R. B. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Personality assessed with the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) in college was used to predict exercise behavior measured at midlife in 3,630 men and 796 women enrolled in the University of North Carolina Alumni Heart Study. Logistic regression models were fitted for each of the MMPI clinical scales to test the predictive effect of personality, gender, and their interaction on adult exercise behavior. Lower depression, social introversion, and psychopathic deviance scores were associated with increased probability of exercising in midlife for both men and women. Furthermore, better psychological health (indexed by lower hypochondriases and psychasthenia) in college was generally predictive of increased exercise for men, whereas higher scores on these same factors predicted midlife exercise for women. There were two other patterns of gender interactions: (a) for men, lower scores on hysteria and schizophrenia scales were associated with increased probability of exercising at midlife, whereas these factors were unrelated to exercise for women and (b) for women, lower ego strength and higher college scores on paranoia and mania were associated with exercise behavior at midlife. These data suggest that early adulthood personality predictors of exercise behavior at midlife are both gender-neutral and gender-specific; that is, where no gender differences exist, healthier personality traits predict exercise at midlife, and when gender differences do occur, healthier college patterns of personality predict exercise behavior for men and sedentary behavior for women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalWomen's health (Hillsdale, N.J.)
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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