Stages-of-Change Found to be a Valid Model to Apply to Interventions to Increase Exercise

Researchers at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii tested the validity of applying the "Stages of Change Model" to physical activity levels.

This mode—used successfully for smoking cessation and weight loss—proposes that individuals pass through five stages (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance) as their readiness to adopt and use a new behavior increases.

Key Findings

  • In an unpublished paper, investigators reported the following:

    • Results from measures of physical activity commonly used with adults support the validity of using stages of change for physical activity. Self-reported physical activity, self-reported exercise and measures of physical activity using pedometers all provided objective support for the model.
    • Evidence of the model's validity extends to previously unexamined clinical, underserved and minority populations.
  • In an article in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, the researchers reported the following:

    • The approximate distribution of participants in all nine studies across the stages of change was: 5 percent pre-contemplation, 10 percent contemplation, 40 percent preparation, 10 percent action and 35 percent maintenance.
    • Of those who were not physically active—people "at risk" due to not being regularly active—approximately 15 percent were in pre-contemplation, 15 percent in contemplation and 70 percent in preparation.
    • Participants recruited for a specific health risk, such as heart disease, were more often unprepared to begin physical activity: 20 percent were in pre-contemplation, 10 percent in contemplation and 70 percent in preparation.