Understanding motivators for exercise participation in post-menopausal women may impact retention to exercise programmes and inform intervention trial designs. The purpose of this investigation was to assess self-reported motivational factors influencing adherence and retention to a 24-week progressive resistance training programme.
Post-menopausal females (n = 34) were passively recruited to undertake a 24-week progressive resistance training protocol, in small-group sessions, on three non-consecutive days of the week. Attendance was recorded by the researcher. Qualitative reports were sourced from the sample for four phases of the study: pre-study (prior to week 1), recruitment (week 1), during study (weeks 2 – 24), and post-intervention (beyond week 24). Responses were categorised according to ten descriptors: specific health index improvement, education, flexibility of time, social contact, conscience (loyalty to the researcher), wellness, weight management, organisation parameters (pertaining to the study programme) and enjoyment of the exercises.
Of the initial sample, 76.5% (n = 26) met the specified ≥80% attendance criterion. The primary findings were that motivation to volunteer for the study was driven by a perceived need for a structured exercise programme (50% of respondents). A commitment to the researcher was the primary motivator for continued adherence to the study for 50% of participants. Social contact with other participants was cited by 60% of the sample as the primary reason for adherence for the full duration of 24 weeks. A desire to maintain the “wellness” derived from the programme was cited by 60% as a reason for continuing an exercise routine post-study.
This study identified that routine and supervision initially attract women to exercise programmes, while social cohesion of the group setting contributes to retention over time. Understanding the changing nature of motivating factors may contribute to better overall adherence and retention to exercise programmes and interventions.