Living the MBTI: Type and Exercise

Weights(This post references personality type as discussed via the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. For an overview of the MBTI go here.)

Earlier this week my wife and I were discussing the desire each of us has to drop a couple of pounds.  (I suppose that happens to most people when they’re smack in the middle of bathing suit season.)  We began talking about ways to incorporate more exercise into our lives to help us meet our goals.

As an INTJ I wanted to make a plan and apply structure to my process. And since I had been thinking about this for a while (via reflection in my head of course) I was able to quickly state my plans. “I need to mix cardio and strength training.” I said. “I’ll do cardio on Tuesdays and Thursdays and strength training on Wednesdays and a weekend day.”

Notice the kinds of exercise I chose: Cardio and strength training aren’t terribly specific are they? I didn’t say “I’m going to run 3 miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays and do some of our P90X DVDs on Wednesdays and weekends.” My preference for iNtuition meant that my planning was specific enough for me without truly containing the finer details. I knew what I meant.

As an ISFP my wife shys away from committing to a plan that contains that much structure. She wants to retain the freedom and flexibility to choose when, where, and how she exercises. For her it’s important to allow the circumstances of her daily life to ebb and flow and to be able to choose what kind of activity she feels like doing in the moment. The result is committing not to a specific structure but to more abstract goals that retain that adaptability she prefers. She ultimately stated that she would work to ensure that each week contained a core-training exercise DVD we have “and a bike ride.” Notice that her activities are specific but the timing and order are absent. As she prefers.

What about you? How does your type influence your exercise habits (or lack thereof!)? Does your preference for Extraversion create a desire to work out with friends, at a gym, or in classes? How does your Judging function (Thinking or Feeling) influence your choices? For example- I notice I exert more when in competitive activities like sports or games. Like many with a preference for Thinking (“T”) I tend to be pretty competitive. Do you approach exercise as fun?  As a job? As a task to be checked off? As a playful escape? As a chance to be social? I’d love to hear your thoughts via the comments box below!

(By the way extensive work has been done in this area by Suzanne Brue.  Here’s an article if you want to learn more!)


4 thoughts on “Living the MBTI: Type and Exercise

  1. As an extravert I like to report my progress to someone as I go along or work as a team or with a chatty video or in a busy gym or park and chat with people about progress and so on. As an intuitive I like to get a well-rounded workout, looking at the big picture, not just strength or stamina e.g. and to stay aware of new trends and ideas in fitness. As a thinker I need to know how to measure my progress objectively, and the team should hold each other accountable, not just make each other feel good about ourselves with no proof of success. And as a judger I need a goal and a timeline, and if I can’t complete a set or beat a goal or make a deadline I’m out of kilter.

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