Behavioral Benefits of a Process-Focused Workout Program: A Quasi-Experimental Test

Celina R. Furman, Alexander J. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Research suggests that focusing on the process of losing weight (i.e. how to eat and exercise) may be more advantageous for sustained engagement with goal pursuit than focusing on weight loss itself. However, gym-based weight loss programs focus almost exclusively on outcomes (e.g. weight, appearance). Using a quasi-experimental design, this study provides a test of subjective and behavioral outcomes of a process- versus an outcome-focused approach integrated into an 8-week workout challenge at four fitness studios. Methods: Four hundred and forty-eight individuals who were enrolled in the workout challenge consented to participate in study assessments at the start of the 8-week challenge, the end of the 8-week challenge, and again 8 weeks later. Results: The process- and outcome-focused programs produced similar subjective experiences, but the process-focused program was associated with greater workout attendance, more adoption of supplemental weight-loss strategies, and higher completion of the program requirements. Conclusions: As compared to traditional outcome-focused approaches, process-focused weight loss programs may elicit behavioral benefits, such as maintaining engagement with the behavioral demands of weight loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-827
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Psychology: Health and Well-Being
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Traci Mann, Erin Standen, and Sarah Volz for their insightful comments on the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Association of Applied Psychology


  • exercise
  • goal focus
  • outcome
  • process
  • self-regulation
  • weight

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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