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Psychology used to encourage exercise and fitness

This is an excerpt from Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Psychology by Alan Kornspan.

Kelly Belkeir joined a fitness center a few years ago. Like many people, she went to work out once and then did not return for another workout. A main reason she did not return was that she felt uncomfortable and did not believe she was obtaining the necessary help from the staff ("YMCAs Offer Customized Workout Programs," 2005). But she was still interested in beginning an exercise program, so Kelly decided to join the local YMCA. Kelly's experience the second time was much better. The YMCA had started a new program called the Coach Approach. Kelly received fitness coaching during her weekly exercise process. She met with a wellness coach, who helped her stick to her exercise routine. The coaches helped Kelly determine the best time to exercise in order to manage her time.

Similarly, Carla Brooks was 52. She had worked out and exercised before, but often had trouble maintaining a physically active lifestyle (Sarnataro, 2005). Carla said, "I'd get started and do pretty well for a while, but I'd get busy and drop off" (section 1, para. 2).

To stay motivated, Carla worked with a wellness coach, who focused on helping her stay active. Carla said, "Each time I met with the coach, she had a topic to talk about. She gave you tools to deal with when you didn't feel like exercising or got off track" (Sarnataro, 2005, section 2, para. 15). While working with a wellness coach for a one-year period, Carla was very successful in meeting her physical activity and weight loss goals.

The American Heart Association (AHA) published a statement recommending that medical professionals provide exercise and physical activity counseling:

We know many doctors have less time to visit with each patient. Still most patients say that if their doctors told them to be physically active, they would listen. Doctors need to ask questions at every visit about what kinds of activity and how much activity each patient is getting. If doctors don't have time to counsel, they can refer patients to other healthcare team members. These may include nurse case managers, certified exercise professionals trained in behavior-change programs, and sports nutritionists. ("Exercise [Physical Activity] Counseling," 2007, para. 2)

The Move for Health program was established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002. This organization has referred to the problem of physical inactivity as a global public health problem: "Effective public health measures are urgently needed to improve physical activity behaviours in all populations" ("Physical Inactivity: A Global Public Health Problem," 2008, para. 3). Many nations have begun to address this problem by creating programs to increase the physical activity of their citizens. Healthy Active Australia is one such program developed by the Australian government. The Sport England organization's mission is to help the population of England become more active through sport.

In response to the need to address physical inactivity, many nations' government agencies have created jobs that focus on strategies to increase the physical activity behavior of the citizens in the community. These types of positions are also developing in the private sector. The following are types of jobs that focus on changing the physical activity behavior of the general population:

  • Health and physical activity manager
  • Manager of physical activity promotion
  • Physical activity coordinator
  • Physical activity development officer
More Excerpts From Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Psychology