Background: An unresolved debate lingers over the effect of past behavior on motivational patterns and future behavior stability in the exercise context. Theorists argue that past behavior has a residual effect on future behavior; however, empirical studies have shown that past behavior displays significant power in predicting behavior recurrence in the future. The present research aimed to examine the effect of past behavior and motivational determinants on future exercise adherence. Methods: Data from 437 Portuguese gym exercisers (female = 235; male = 202) aged between 18 and 53 years (M = 31.14; SD = 9.47), with exercise experience ranging from 6 to 12 months (M = 9.41; SD = 1.33) were considered for research. Participants completed a multi-section survey measuring interpersonal behaviors, basic psychological needs, behavioral regulations, and intentions. Data from past behavior and future exercise adherence were collected using computerized records of their attendance at the gym. Results: Positive and significant correlations paths were evidenced among perceived supportive behaviors, needs satisfaction, autonomous motivation, intentions and future exercise adherence. Similar results were presented among perceived thwarting behaviors, needs frustration, and controlled motivation. Regression paths showed that perceived supportive behavior, basic needs satisfaction, and autonomous motivation displayed positive and significant effects on future behaviors; thus, past behavior displayed the highest coefficient on future exercise adherence. Fitness professionals should aim at creating supportive environments, thus, improving the likelihood of being perceived by exercisers as need-supportive individuals. By doing so, as a result, exercisers would experience increased levels of autonomous motivation and higher rates of future exercise attendance at the gym. Hence, exercisers will gradually form their positive past exercise experience, increasing the probability of engaging in an exercise in the future.
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