Psychosocial predictors of running adherence and maintenance among participants of Dutch running clinics

  • K. Verkooijen
  • R. Maddison


Background: Recreational running has become increasingly popular in the Netherlands. To accommodate this trend, various organisations offer 6-weeks running clinics to help engage inexperienced runners. Little is known about how many clinic participants maintain running during and after the clinic, and what (if any) psychosocial factors predict this behaviour. Methods: Self-report data were collected among running clinic participants at three points in time: at the start of the clinic (T1: n=140, 22.5% male, age range: 16-65), after six weeks (T2: n=94), and after three months (T3: n=74). Psychosocial predictors were assessed including intention, self-efficacy, affect, past behaviour, self-identity, motives, goal setting, and basic psychological needs satisfaction. Linear and logistic regression analysis was used to identify significant predictors of running adherence and short-term maintenance. Findings: 61% of the respondents were still running three months after the start of the clinic, although this might be an overestimation due to selective drop-out. Affect appeared to be the sole predictor of running adherence and maintenance. Running injuries were frequently reported as a reason for discontinuation. Discussion: Contrary to cross-sectional studies on the psychosocial correlates of exercise behaviour, this longitudinal study shows that few of the studied psychosocial variables predict running adherence and short-term maintenance. Yet, positive affect (i.e., enjoyment while running) shows important. The results imply that running instructors may want to focus on positive affect and injury prevention, and not so much on motivational factors, to enhance running continuation.
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