A number of studies have focused on the effects of exercise training on personality (Dienstbier, 1984). Canadian researcher McPherson and his colleagues (1967) reported that healthy adults who had exercised regularly for 4 or more years exhibited greater energy, patience, humor, ambition, and optimism and were more amiable, graceful, good-tempered, elated, and easygoing than were a group of persons just commencing an exercise-training program. Similarly, Ismail and Trachtman (1973) from Purdue University, Indiana, reported that high-fitness adults had greater emotional stability, imaginativeness, and selfsufficiency than did adults with low levels of fitness. Membership in the highfitness group was associated with self-assurance, imagination, emotional stability, and self-sufficiency.
Subsequent studies showed that exercise training increases self-confidence, emotional stability, self-sufficiency, conscientiousness, and persistence (Buccola & Stone, 1975; M.W. Sharp & Reilley, 1975; R.J. Young & Ismail, 1976a, 1976b, 1977); reduces anxiety, tension, depression, and fatigue; and increases vigor (Blumenthal et al, 1982b).
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Runners in particular were found to be more introverted, sExercises, self-sufficient, and imaginative than inactive controls, and the runners were also low on anxiety and high on self-esteem (Hartung & Farge, 1977). It also appears that these benefits increase with increasing amounts of exercise. Thus, marathon runners score higher on these variables than do joggers who, in turn, score higher than do those who are inactive (Wilson et al, 1980). Body image and self-esteem are also increased in persons who exercise regularly (Eide, 1982). Exercise training also increased self-concept and mood in incarcerated delinquent adolescents (MacMahon & Gross, 1988).
These studies led the eminent sport psychologist Bruce Ogilvie, coauthor of the classic text Problem Athletes and How to Handle Them (Ogilvie & Tutko, 1971), to state the following:
Distance running has character strengthening effects as well as physical effects. Running can generate certain qualities that have tremendous payoffs in our society; qualities such as dependability, organization, the willingness to take risks and push to the limit, and tenacity; qualities we need to survive in our world today. The nature of distance running demands and nurtures these qualities. (Ogilvie, 1981, p. 52)
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