How to Apply Transtheoretical Model to Exercise Adherence

One interesting theory of the process of behavior change is the transtheo­retical model. The five stages in this model are:

  1. Precontemplation. Applied to exer­cise, individuals at this first stage are not exercising. They probably are not considering exercising, and they might be denying that exercise should be part of their lifestyle. People in this stage need a solid reason to change their behavior. One approach is to encourage them to move slowly along the continuum of stages instead of attempting to thrust themselves directly into the action stage. Understanding why physical activity is important—that it promotes health enhancement and an improved quality of life— leads to the next stage.

  1. Contemplation. Knowledge, or some other motivator such as “It’s time to lose a few pounds” or “My 48-year-old neighbor died of a heart attack this morning and I’m his age,” could be stimulus enough for an individual to seriously consider starting an exercise program. When this hap­pens, the individual has progressed to the contemplation stage.
  2. Preparation. At this stage the person demonstrates some overt move­ment signaling an intent to exercise, such as purchasing fitness equip­ment or a pair of walking/running shoes or joining a health club.
  3. Action. The person finally arrives at this stage when he or she actually becomes involved in some physical activity.
  4. Maintenance. If the behavior change is successful, the person adheres to the program for some time. Even so, people backslide for various reasons, and some drop out even after they have participated for a long time.

The time a person spends in any stage varies, and he or she might move back and forth among the stages. Although this model provides a frame­work for changing behavior, it does not work for all people, nor does it assure that a person will sustain the new behavior. People who drop out or back­slide, however, can take comfort in the fact that the more attempts they make to establish a behavior change—in this case, lifetime exercise—the greater is the probability of eventual success.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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