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Stages of Changing Behaviour

There are lots of things that can stand in the way of being physically active. Understanding the five stages of change will help you overcome these barriers by making some changes in your beliefs and behaviors moving you toward your fitness goals.

Figure out which stage you’re at, then move on to the next one.

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation

You haven’t even started thinking about finding time for activity in your busy schedule. You don’t have any plans to become active. You aren’t totally aware of the benefits or importance of physical activity. You don’t pay attention to your activity habits. You think that staying the same is a lot more attractive than changing.

What To Do

Learn why physical activity is important. Focus on the benefits of being active. Read, take a class, talk to your health care provider, family member or qualified exercise professional.

Stage 2: Contemplation

You know you need to be active, but you have lots of excuses, like your job is too busy or the weather is bad. You’re thinking about becoming more active, but not for 6 months or so. You have low self-confidence and aren’t sure you can do it.

What To Do

Move some of the excuses out of the way. Make one small change to your activity level and lifestyle. Increase your chances of becoming active by dealing with your doubt. Focus on the benefits of being active. Believe that you can reach your activity goal.

Stage 3: Preparation

You’ve bought a new pair of runners or an exercise DVD. You’re doing some activity but not the recommended amount (30 minutes of moderate activity on at least 5 days per week, or at least 20 minutes of vigorous activity on 3 to 5 days per week). You’re planning on becoming active in the next month. You’ve tried being active in the past year.

What To Do

Plan an exercise program and keep it simple. Set a target date and goals. Focus on the benefits of being more active. Find the information and equipment you need and start planning some rewards and support.

Stage 4: Action

You’ve already worked up a sweat to your favourite DVD or met your best friend for a walk. You’ve been meeting the recommended amount of physical activity for less than 6 months. You’re at high risk of a setback.

What To Do

Prepare for potential setbacks. Keep track of your activity and plan for challenges. Reward yourself and get support.

Stage 5: Maintenance

You’ve consistently met your activity goals for at least 6 months. You’re confident, know how to deal with setbacks and don’t need as much support as you did before.

What To Do

Have a support system. Prepare for a potential setback. Change and add variety to your activity routine. Keep rewarding yourself.

Last Reviewed: March 2017

© 2017 Province of British Columbia. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a health professional. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.