There are numerous theories and models that explain exercise behaviour. One of these theories is called The Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1986). The model outlines several stages that people may move through when engaging in exercise. Experiences and behaviour impact if and how people move through the stages. As a person who wants to live a healthy lifestyle, understanding these stages and which stage you are in can help to push towards getting (or staying active).

The first stage in the model is Precontemplation. People who are not thinking of exercise engagement are in this stage. The second stage is Contemplation. Those who are thinking they may start exercising in the next six months are in this stage. The third stage is Preparation. Preparation is present in people who are preparing to exercise in the near future. People who have exercised in the past six months are in the fourth stage of Action. Finally, the fifth stage is Maintenance. People who have been exercising for at least six months are in this stage. Hopefully, people who are in the maintenance stage continue to exercise and feel the benefits. People can move forward or backwards through these stages.

How to begin?:

The best approaches to help one begin to think or continue to exercise are different for each stage. For instance, educating people on why exercise is so critical towards short and long-term health is suitable for people who are in the Precontemplation stage. Speaking to health care professionals you trust and/or contacting Fitsports can provide education. 

In the Contemplation stage, the person believes that there are more or an equal amount of disadvantages than advantages to exercising. Accordingly, thinking about all the advantages of exercising may assist one in moving towards the Preparation stage. Encouragement from friends and family to plan to exercise can help those who are in the Contemplation stage as well.

How to keep going?

Next, those who are in the Preparation Stage must plan how they will start to exercise. They must determine Where, When, How and With Who they should exercise with. The multiple class types (i.e. Fitness classes, Yoga, Shadow Boxing) that  Also, making SMART goals can assist in moving towards the Maintenance stage and continuing to strive. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. An example of a SMART goal is to start exercising three times every week for forty-five minutes each time by June 1.

Action Stage

People who are in the Action stage may include those who are starting to engage in exercise and trying classes. Having support through this stage is essential towards moving towards the Maintenance stage where exercise becomes part of a sustained lifestyle. Support can be provided when exercising with a group/class lead by a certified trainer/instructor. Exercising with others is fun and provides positive encouragement to keep working hard.

Lastly, people in the Maintenance stage must prepare for unforeseen situations that may harm their exercising program. Thinking about challenges that may be deterring from exercising and how they can be overcome is an example of preparing for unforeseen situations. Having support through friends and family is key in this stage as it is in other stages.

In conclusion

If you are interested in learning, starting or maintaining an exercising program, try to identify which stage you are in of the Transtheoretical Model and use the methods suggested to move forward through the stages! Stay healthy!



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