Dispositional Optimism and Exercise Behaviour: The Moderating Role of Trait Self-Control
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Extensive research has shown that dispositional optimism has a positive impact on physical and psychological health and well-being. The present study looked at the relationship between dispositional optimism and one health-related behaviour in particular, namely exercise behaviour. Enough exercise is important for several health and well-being reasons, leaving people with good intentions to exercise, but the majority do not manage to follow through. People face daily distractors and temptations, which act as obstacles in their pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. A trait that helps combat this dilemma is self-control. The first hypothesis was that dispositional optimism would be positively associated with exercise behaviour; and the second was that trait self-control would moderate this relationship. Previous research on the topic has been somewhat mixed, hence the addition of a moderating variable to potentially help explain inconsistent findings. Data was collected using a survey study and participants were recruited via the network of the researcher. The final sample consisted of 283 participants. Results revealed no association between dispositional optimism and exercise behaviour in this study, and no moderating effect of trait self-control, which left both hypotheses unsupported. However, a significant positive association was found between trait self-control and exercise. These results raise questions regarding the effects of optimism on specific health-related behaviours, implying that more research is required in this field. Though somewhat indirectly, the findings also add to the large pool of research on the positive impact of trait self-control on behaviour.