A matched control design was used to assess adherence to exercise over a 7 week programme and to explore the role of stress, mood, self-efficacy, optimism, resilience, growth and self-compassion in relation to exercise and exercise adherence. Overall 74 female university students, 42 in the experimental condition and 32 in the control group, were assessed at 3 time points over the 7 weeks. Control participants were matched for age and body shape. Those who scored higher on self-compassion, resilience and growth were more likely to complete the programme and taking part in the programme was associated with increased positive mood and reduced perceived stress. Additionally, exercise appeared to increase optimism, self-efficacy, resilience and perceived growth while reducing pessimism.