We have to understand that people leading a sedentary lifestyle do not always appreciate the benefits of being physically active. The first step in this direction could be a huge one for them and unfortunately in many cases this step would only have been taken because they were directed by their doctor for health reasons. Changing people’s behavior is not an easy task. An intervention program requires good planning to be able to achieve the desired goals. Specific goals are important for the client to be successful and are better than having too many goals (Osahon 2017). The practitioner should be in a position to ask certain questions to the client. For example these can include:
• Do you know of the benefits of physical activity?
• Are there any influences preventing you from engaging in physical activity?
• Are you ready to start a physical activity program?
The answers will help the fitness coach to plan the best possible program for the client. There are many theories on which the fitness coach can work; the best one in my opinion is The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) which was developed by Prochaska and Di Clemente in 1983 (Liu et al. 2018) and is aimed at understanding the individual’s behavioural changes. This model has six stages which are:
- The Pre-contemplation stage
- Contemplation stage
- Preparation stage
- Action stage
- Maintenance stage
- Termination stage
The six stages will be explained in brief here below;
The Pre-contemplation stage
People in this stage have no intention of making changes and they don’t see that there is a problem. They are in denial that they might have a problem of being overweight. The fitness coach has to see what barriers are keeping the client from accepting the fact that a problem might exist especially for his/her health.
Clients that are in the contemplation stage are aware of the pros if they change their behaviour but are still not ready to make the move to change. They are undecided on what to do.
Clients in this stage believe that changing their lifestyle can lead for healthier life. They are ready to make changes in the near future. They might also considered of joining a change or to take up some form of physical activity.
Clients must clearly show that there were changes in their behaviour for a healthier lifestyle during the last six months. They also must show that they are willing to keep moving forward with their behavioural changes.
Clients in this stage have sustained their behaviour for a number of months and are working to prevent relapse to earlier stages. Studies based on self-efficacy data show that clients in this stage usually last from six months to five years.
This stage is very rare to reach and so it is not considered in most health promotion programs. People managing to reach this stage have no desire to return to their old habits which were unhealthy ones and for sure they will not relapse.
The transtheoretical model can be applied to various situations for example;
- quitting up smoking
- making a diet change from one based on junk food to one which is healthier
- making a lifestyle change from a sedentary lifestyle to one based on physical activity
In fact Physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour are considered to be global issues. Although the importance and benefits of physical activity have been highlighted (Mozaffarian et al., 2012) the general population as well as university and college students remain physically inactive (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008; World Health Organization, 2010). Through this model clients can start to perceive more benefits than disadvantages by adopting positive behavioural changes (Han et al. 2015).
Being physically active and losing extra weight can significantly improve our health and quality of life. We can enjoy higher energy levels and confidence in our everyday life. Having extra fat and leading an unhealthy lifestyle can also lead to the development of many cardiovascular diseases. Exercising can become part of our everyday life, and can help us achieve our weight loss goals without too many efforts. Healthy habits and good choices can significantly change our lives.
Han, H., Gabriel, K. P., and Kohl, H. W. 2015, “Evaluations of validity and reliability of a transtheoretical model for sedentary behavior among college students”, Am. J.Health Behav. vol. 39, pp. 601–609. doi:10.5993/AJHB.39.5.2.
Liu KT, Kueh YC, Arifin WN, Kim Y and Kuan G. 2018, “Application of Transtheoretical Model on Behavioral Changes, and Amount of Physical Activity Among University’s Students”, Front. Psychol. vol. 9, pp. 1 – 8, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02402.
Mozaffarian, D., Afshin, A., Benowitz, N. L., Bittner, V., Daniels, S. R., Franch, H. A. 2012, “Population approaches to improve diet, physical activity, and smoking habits: a scientific statement from the American heart association”, Circulation 126, pp. 1514–1563, doi:10.1161/CIR.0b013e318260a20b.
Osahon, O. 2017, “Why written objectives need to be really SMART”, British Journal of Healthcare Management, vol. 23, no. 7, pp. 324-336, DOI:10.12968/bjhc.2017.23.7.324.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, Be Active, Healthy, and Happy! viewed 28th February 2020, <https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/paguide.pdf>
World Health Organization. 2010, Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. Viewed 28th February 2020, <http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/9789241599979/en/>