BACKGROUND: Exercise interventions result in modest weight loss, yet exercise is frequently prescribed for weight loss.
PURPOSE: To identify individuals who become discouraged when exercise fails to achieve weight loss.
METHODS: Representative samples of U.S. adults were recruited using Google Consumer Surveys in August-October 2014. Respondents were asked about beliefs and potential discouragement regarding the role of exercise and weight loss. An analysis of variance was performed to predict individuals that become discouraged if exercise does not lead to weight loss.
RESULTS: The belief that exercise is a very effective way to lose weight was common (71% of respondents). Stronger belief that exercise is an effective way to lose weight (p<0.001) in individuals with higher weight status (p=0.04) positively predicted discouragement with exercise. Higher weight status combined with the belief that exercise reduces weight was a significant positive predictor of discouragement (p=0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with higher weight status that believe that exercise is an effective way to lose weight are more likely to become discouraged when exercise does not lead to weight loss. Prescribing exercise for weight loss might contribute to discouragement. Future studies should evaluate ways to encourage exercise without promoting the belief that exercise will yield weight loss.