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What Color is Your Spark: Using Psychological Type to Energize Your Exercise Plan

It’s becoming indisputably clear that exercise not only benefits the body, it benefits the brain.  I just returned from the Learning and the Brain Conference in Chicago and the importance of physical exercise for learning, mood stability, and mental acuity was reiterated.  However, what  if we aren’t motivated to exercise or have a well-meaning trainer or friend who is trying to steer us toward a program that is workable for the short term, but tedious and likely to fizzle in the long run.

Shortly after I published a review on John Ratey’s Spark book, a scientifically based but very readable text on the benefits of exercise on brain health and function, I had several people step forward praising his work.  One of these was Suzanne Brue, author of The Eight Colors of Fitness and the former president of the Association for Psychological Type International.   One of Suzanne’s major projects is help match fitness approaches and goals to one’s MBTI type.

There are 8 major types based on the perceiving function.  Hence, as an ENFP, I am grouped with ENTPs because we both share dominant extraverted intuition.  Morever, instead of trying to remember a letter code, I am assigned a color, in this case silver, to help me remember what my type is.  Silver exercisers prefer variety and the opportunity to disguise exercise as fun..  Of course, we all prefer to have some degree of fun when we exercise, but is essential to silvers in order to sustain effort over the long haul. Other colors, such as the blues, respond better to goals and objective parameters.

Imagine a silver, who prefers variety and loosely defined objectives receiving exercise direction from someone who sees objective parameters as essential to a successful exercise program.  Here you may find a client and trainer who are initially attracted to each other because of the differences in approach but over the long haul, may grow weary of each other because of these differences.    Apart from the interpersonal element, an individual may also choose a regime that worked for a friend but become discouraged because it doesn’t work for him.   The exercise plan is not the problem but the fit may be.

The Eight Colors of Fitness website has many useful components. First, there is a quiz that will help you identify what type of exerciser you are-your fitness color.  It also has suggestions on how to energize your inner exercise warrior by giving concrete suggestions on what types of activities are likely to appeal to you in the long run.   There are also several links to articles that have featured the Eight Colors system including Arthritis Today, The Chicago Daily Herald, and the  Lifetime Fitness magazine.  Please visit Suzanne’s website and browse the offerings to see if this might help you get moving and stay moving.

Long ago in my career as a speech pathologist helping brain-injured people recover, it was intuitively clear to me that individual differences in the personality of the client dictated what approach would yield the best long-term results.  For any resilient changes to occur, a brain must be engaged and anything that goes against cognitive preference is likely to be discarded in the end (unless the client deliberately chooses to operate out of natural preference).   How one prefers to approach a challenge serves as the underpinning for the strategies he chooses to meet the challenge.

So it is with exercise!  Match your personality with the vast array of methods to achieve fitness goals. We now know that exercise and brain health are inextricably bound so start exploring your preferences for the sake of your body and your mind!  In  the words of  Thomas Jefferson:  A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind.

For more information on the Eight Colors of Fitness system, there is a free webinar this Thursday, 12-12:12:45 EDT.  Click this link for more information and to register.


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