First Advisor

Dr. Alma S. Eaton

Date of Award

Spring 6-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors






exercise adherence, exercise compliance, depression, exercise strategies, physical activity


Background: Exercise is associated with numerous physical and mental health benefits; however, many people struggle to exercise a sufficient amount and thus do not reap the benefits. Exercise is recognized as an effective treatment for depression with few risks. Professionals must understand the factors affecting exercise adherence to assist individuals of different backgrounds with adhering to exercise over the long term and to avoid common pitfalls that could hinder an individual’s progress.

Objective: This literature review aimed to identify factors affecting exercise adherence and to explore how those factors could inform strategies to increase exercise adherence among depressed and general populations.

Method: A non-exhaustive review of peer-reviewed literature was performed to gain a broad understanding of exercise adherence and strategies that could help individuals increase the likelihood of adhering to exercise. Self-determination Theory (SDT) was used to guide the understanding of motivation.

Results: The literature consistently shows that factors such as enjoyment, habit, social support, and intrinsic motivation play instrumental roles in the likelihood of an individual adhering to exercise. Strategies to increase the likelihood of exercise adherence should prioritize exercise prescriptions tailored to an individual’s needs and preferences, with the goal of developing an exercise habit in mind. Of key importance is that exercise be enjoyable and appropriately challenging. These findings have practical implications for fitness and healthcare professionals.