Sunday, February 14, 2010

5 Stages of Change

When we work with clients, one of the first things we do is determine how physically active they are through a simple model called the 'Stages of Motivational Readiness for Change'. It's a long term for something quite simple. If you're struggling to get on, and stick with an exercise program, this information may just be what you need to change your lifestyle.

First, you must determine what stage you're in. Studies have shown that anytime people are trying to make any lifestyle change, they go through 5 stages. If you're aware of this and can determine which one you're on, it's much easier to walk through the stages to eventually make the change you desire.

This model focuses on your motivation to change and the actual behavior change, two very different things!

Here are the 5 stages:

Stage 1: Not thinking about change. These individuals do no physical activity and do not intend to start in the next six months.

Stage 2: Thinking about change. These are individuals who do not participate in physical activity but intend to start in the next six months.

Stage 3: Doing some physical activity. These individuals participate in some physical activity but not at levels that meet the CDC/ACSM guidelines of accumulating at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most/all days per week or the ACSM guidelines of at least 20 minutes of continuous vigorous exercise at least 3 days a week.

Stage 4: Doing enough physical activity. These individuals participate in recommended amounts of physical activity but have done so for less than six months and may or may not maintain this level of physical activity.

Stage 5: Making physical activity a habit. These individuals have participated in recommended amounts of physical activity for six months or longer.

Which stage are you on (I hope you don't say stage 1!)? Maybe you think you've been on stage 3, but have fallen away a little and now are on stage 2. Not to worry, it's normal to move around a little within these stages. The goal, of course, it to get to stage 5 and stay on it most of the time.

So, now what? How do you make the change? There's actually a process you can use. We'll briefly go over this process today, and will talk in detail in a later blog.

Cognitive process: Increase your knowledge, be aware of risks of not being physically active, care about consequences of others, comprehend the benefits and increase your healthy opportunities.

Behavior process: Substituting alternatives, enlisting social support, rewarding yourself, committing yourself and reminding yourself.

This may all seem complicated and confusing, but it's really quite simple. If you take anything away from this blog post, I hope it's this: everyone struggles with change so don't give up, learn where you're at in the process, learn as much as you can and start thinking about how you make healthier choices in your own life -- starting right now!