"It's just me" : a grounded theory of the experience of being a long term exerciser : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
Exercise has been linked to a range of health benefits. Despite significant research into this relationship many of its dynamics remain a mystery. Almost all of this research has been quantitative in orientation with little emphasis given to the experiences of the exercisers' themselves. This study focuses on the lived experiences of eight long-term exercisers using a hermeneutic grounded theory methodology to collect, collate, explore and interpret their accounts of it. In arriving at themes that meaningfully describe these experiences this project was a collaborative effort between the co-researchers and myself to negotiate a shared understanding of what exercising means for us. These themes include exercising outcomes and background influences that combine to produce exercising experiences that are both self-defining and self-enhancing. Seen this way our exercising can be viewed as a three-stage process of self-discovery involving initiation, exploration and integration. This understanding of long-term exercise provides the opportunity to gain further insight into the dynamics of our adherence and longevity. In producing a public record of this shared understanding this study also validates and gives voice to our experiences.