Change challenges us and helps us thrive, as individuals and as a community. Pursuing and maintaining a physically active lifestyle will allow us to be healthy, happy and productive people.
It’s easier to progress our personal growth when we have direction. The five Stages for Motivational Readiness for Change, as explained in my earlier post Making Physical Activity a Habit, guide individuals on creating lifelong habit changes in physical activity.
Here are strategies you can implement to move up the stages and spark change in your current levels of physical activity:
How to advance through the Stages of Change
1. Identify which stage you are in (for guidance, click here).
2. Read through and consider the following selection of recommendations from Motivating People to Be Physically Active (Forsyth & Marcus, 2003) on how to advance through the stages. Many of these are cumulative and continue to apply as you move up the stages; some are specific to the stage.
If you are in…
Stage 1 – Inactive and not thinking about becoming more active
- Write down how your sedentary lifestyle is affecting you and your loved ones
- Determine benefits of physical activity and how much these matter to you
- Look back at past attempts at behavior change and identify learned experiences
Stage 2 – Inactive and thinking about becoming more active
- Expand knowledge on benefits of physical activity
- Identify excuses and issues that prevent you from engaging in physical activity
- Create achievable short-term goals
Stage 3 – Doing some physical activity
- Create a plan to substitute 15 minutes of sedentary time in the week with an simple, enjoyable, active option
- Decide on a reward for achieving your goals
- Brainstorm ways to overcome excuses that shy you away from physical activity
Stage 4 – Doing enough physical activity
- Note how you have benefitted from physical activity
- Think about future obstacles that may prevent you from engaging in physical activity and develop a plan on how to address them
- Expand your horizons and try out new physical activities
Stage 5 – Making physical activity a habit (maintaining Stage 4 for at least 6 months)
- Launch long-term goals and track progress on a log
- Consider becoming a role model to someone who may need motivation to advance through any of the stages
- Remind yourself that if for some reason you need to pause physical activity, you will be capable of resuming
Most importantly, always remember to praise yourself for your efforts, diligence and dedication. The only one who ultimately can enable your personal growth is you!