Walk to Health: The Transtheoretical Model for Behavior Change Applied to Exercise

Walk to Health: The Transtheoretical Model for Behavior Change Applied to Exercise

Paula Miller (University of Phoenix, USA) and James O. Connelly (University of Phoenix, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPPPHCE.2020070101
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This study examined the differences between the levels of exercise among university graduate and undergraduate students. A convenience sample of 137 students were assigned to two groups. Group A received instructions about the program with a pedometer and log sheet and told to focus on an exercise goal. Group B received the same material but without a goal. The two groups were compared on the transtheoretical model's five stages of change. Exercises for strenuous, moderate, and mild activity were compared with the pretest and posttest from the Godden-Shephard Leisure-Time Physical Activity Questionnaire. Analyses indicated that a walking program inspired graduate and undergraduate students to self-monitor their progress. At pretest, there was no distribution of performance toward increasing exercise across the five stages of change for students. However, at posttest, students in Group A with a goal were more likely to engage in mild (p<0.05) and moderate (p<0.05) exercise. Differences in strenuous physical activity were unsupported.
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We live in a time of catchy slogans: Race for the cure, We Walk to Save One Memory at A Time, I walk for my MOM & DAD, the March of Dimes, the mind is a terrible thing to waste, the greatest tragedy is indifference, let your fingers do the walking, when you care enough to send the very best, a diamond is forever, and the list goes on. A new addition to this movement could be Walk to Health. Three simple ingredients can help prevent chronic, debilitating, and expensive health issues later in life: walking, a pedometer, and a personal goal to reach. Though simple in concept, this finding promises to bear much fruit. The simple act of walking to achieve a goal of making x number of steps in a day can help to reduce future chronic illness. Further, this exercise does not necessarily need to be vigorous to produce health benefits.

Millions of people in the United States have become physically inactive, and the incidence of immobility is likely to continue to increase (Reichert, Barros, Domingues, & Hallal, 2007). Health risks associated with becoming sedentary include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, and depression (Withall, Jago, & Fox, 2011). Approximately 133 million adults in the United States have one or more of these chronic conditions (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2012b). In 2011, two out of three Americans (67%) were not physically active at the levels recommended to gain beneficial results (CDC, 2011). The research problem for this study showed that physical inactivity was prevalent among university students and was a major risk factor associated with medical illness (CDC, 2012a). Many young adults on college campuses do not exercise at the levels that are beneficial to improve health (Cho & Beck, 2016).

Government executives have recommended national fitness programs, exercise guidelines, and activities to focus on disease prevention (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). Scientific studies confirm that moderate to vigorous activity lowers one’s risk of having a chronic condition (CDC, 2012c). Physical activity has been used to provide health and wellness benefits for individuals. Garber et al. (2011) affirmed scientific reports validating, “A program of regular exercise that includes cardiorespiratory, resistance, flexibility, and neuromotor exercise training beyond activities of daily living to improve and maintain physical fitness and health is essential for most adults” (p. 1334).

The purpose of this study was to determine if university students’ would participate in a fitness program for better health. Countless people have a sedentary lifestyle, low levels of exercise, and increased weight (Lind, Welch, & Ekkekakis, 2009), Therefore, students should consider a strategy with a plan intended to mitigate the discomfort of physical activity and improve the experience of exercise. The transtheoretical model was used in the study to find out the intent of students’ participation in a fitness program for better health (Rimer & Glanz, 2005). This model is useful in explaining change in behavior over time and provides the theoretical framework for physical activity intervention research (Garber, Allsworth, Marcus, Hesser, & Lapane, 2008). Psychologists Prochaska and DiClemente first theorized the five stages of change in the transtheoretical model, namely, precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance (Pekmezi, Barbera, & Marcus, 2010).

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