Physical activity and exercise play critical roles in energy balance. While many interventions targeted at increasing physical activity have demonstrated efficacy in promoting weight loss or maintenance in the short term, long term adherence to such programmes is not frequently observed. Numerous factors have been examined for their ability to predict and/or influence physical activity and exercise adherence. Although physical activity has been demonstrated to have a strong genetic component in both animals and humans, few studies have examined the association between genetic variation and exercise adherence. In this review, we provide a detailed overview of the non-genetic and genetic predictors of physical activity and adherence to exercise. In addition, we report the results of analysis of 26 single nucleotide polymorphisms in six candidate genes examined for association to exercise adherence, duration, intensity and total exercise dose in young adults from the Training Interventions and Genetics of Exercise Response (TIGER) Study. Based on both animal and human research, neural signalling and pleasure/reward systems in the brain may drive in large part the propensity to be physically active and to adhere to an exercise programme. Adherence/compliance research in other fields may inform future investigation of the genetics of exercise adherence.