Group cohesion and adherence in unstructured exercise groups

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ObjectivesPrevious research has reported a positive relationship between perceptions of cohesion and adherence within structured exercise settings. Given that the social determinants of adherence can vary across situations, this study aimed to examine the cohesion–adherence relationship in unstructured exercise settings.DesignThis study employed a cross-sectional design.MethodsYoung adults (N = 125) recalled an unstructured exercise group where they had been participants, and then rated their perceptions of cohesion with respect to that group as well as reported the number of times/month they had been active in that group.ResultsRegression results revealed that cohesion was significantly related to adherence. Individuals who reported higher levels of task and lower levels of social cohesion, with both dimensions of cohesion reflecting the perceptions of the group as a totality, attended more sessions.ConclusionsThese findings extend research reporting that the cohesiveness perceived in a structured exercise group is related to adherence. However, there were two findings that were not consistent with previous research. The failure of the task dimension associated with satisfying personal needs and objectives to emerge as well as the emergence of a negative relationship with one of the social dimensions of cohesion suggest that the relationship between cohesion and adherence may play out differently in an unstructured versus structured setting with young adults.HighlightsPerceptions of group cohesion associated with adherence in an unstructured exercise setting.Higher levels of task cohesion associated with greater exercise attendance.Higher levels of social cohesion associated with less frequent exercise attendance.The cohesion/adherence relationship appears to be different in an unstructured setting.

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