How much does your personality impact your workout? A lot, according to researchers in the emerging field of exercise psychology. "The more a routine suits your mind-set, the more you're likely to stick with it-and see results," says Heather A. Hausenblas, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of exercise and sports sciences at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She gave 500 students a 240-question personality test measuring their characteristics, habits and exercise preferences, then classified each into one of five major dominant personality types. See which one you most identify with-then find the plan researchers say you're most likely to love.
Personality Type: Extroverted
The profile: You're highly sociable and enjoy large groups, excitement and stimulation.
Workout plan: Classes seem a natural fit, but they may actually hold you back. "Extroverts might not like the structure of an aerobics class, where they have no input," says Marc Lochbaum, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of health, exercise and sports sciences at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Instead, try doing a group activity that allows you to take a little more control, like organizing a weekly running session or an evening skate, cycling with friends or signing on as captain of a softball team.
Personality Type: Open-minded
The profile: You tend to worry a bit more than your pals and have trouble handling stress.
Workout plan: "This type tends to have body-image problems," says Lochbaum. A safer bet might be to avoid the crowds (and mirrors!) at the gym and stick to working out at home. Go for a power walk, pop in an exercise DVD, or invest in a treadmill or other piece of home fitness equipment.
Personality Type: Conscientious
The profile: You crave order and structure in both your life and your workout. You like to plan ahead and check off tasks after you've completed them. You're strong-willed, purposeful and determined.
Workout plan: "Conscientious people like organized activities," says Hausenblas. If you belong to a gym, find a group exercise that's a mainstay on the schedule, whether it's sculpting, kickboxing or Pilates. Or sign up with a trainer for a regular weekly session. Tackle a team sport, such as volleyball or soccer-perfect for a play-by-the-rules gal.
Personality Type: Agreeable
The profile: You're sympathetic and eager to help people and believe they'll be equally helpful in return.
Workout plan: Lucky you! Researchers aren't sure why, but the more agreeable you are, the more likely you are to exercise regularly, says Hausenblas. Almost any activity will do, but ones that involve giving to others-such as a charity bike ride or 5K race-will offer the greatest satisfaction and long-term commitment.