Crawl – Contemplation and subsequent implementation of exercise into your life
You have thought about it, you may have even begun to take an occasional 10-minute walk in addition to walking the dog. This is known as the “contemplation” stage or the “crawl” stage of behavioral change.
-Begin with baby steps.
-Start with a five/ten minute stroll several times/week.
– Just get out there and move—perhaps with a friend/spouse or your pet.
-There are a plethora of health and social benefits to frequent strolls such as improved cardiovascular health, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, mood boosts and better self-control (i.e. wiser food choices—good time to mention that proper nutrition is the other half of the health/fitness equation).
-Once you begin to experience these benefits, then you might consider moving into the “walking” stage.
– Remember, before moving on, that every breath you take, every step you take, matters. You get credit for it all—honor it, feel good about it!
Walk – Expansion and progression of an exercise program throughout your life
You have been “crawling” for a while and are beginning to feel better about life, yourself and the world around you. You may be experiencing elevated energy levels, your clothes fit better, and you are making wiser food choices and are now considering expanding your fitness horizons. This is known as the “action” or “walking” stage of any behavioral change.
-Choose either the frequency, intensity, time or the type (i.e. F.I.T.T. Principle) component to your current “program” and make one small change.
-Perhaps you will add a day of walking to your program increasing the frequency, or you choose to increase the intensity a bit by adding a hill or two in the walk. Since you have been walking for ten minutes each excursion, now may be the time to increase the duration to 15 minutes—what matters now is that you avoid changing more than one of the components of the F.I.T.T. Principle at a time.
-Taking it slow, making changes that are manageable is so important right now. Otherwise, if you overreach and change too much too soon, you are susceptible to overuse injuries or burnout and the subsequent drop out syndrome.
-Avoid it and keep taking baby steps even now that you are walking and not crawling. Think less is more—go for quality experiences.
Run – Consistently adhering to an exercise program for life
You have chosen wisely and decided to increase the frequency of your walks and this has worked very well for you. Remaining at this level for 8-12 weeks proved to be an excellent choice and you then added a little more time and eventually intensity to your program. Once that process worked beautifully, you decided to try a little something different, like a cycling class or integrating muscular strength training into your program (a wise choice as this component of physical fitness is crucial).
-Now, you are in or quickly approaching the maintenance stage or “running” stage of behavioral change.
-Exercise has become a part of your life, not just an occasional stroll or a frequent walk, but a complete health/fitness program which will yield more benefits and positive outcomes for life than just about any other behavioral modification.