How Coaching can get you Physically Active

Posted by: Kristin Behler
Date: December 27, 2016

Does exercise end up on the bottom of your to-do list when other time-consuming tasks such as work, errands and holidays take priority? It happens to most people, but just because you’re busy, it doesn’t mean your fitness goals have to take a backseat. People often turn to health coaching as a support system. There’s almost nothing like a coach’s encouraging and friendly voice over the phone to help redesign habits, focus on strengths, and change challenging habits into healthy ones.

Health coach vs. fitness trainer

A health coach is interested in what makes someone happy, because the coach knows that is the best way to motivate. The role of a coach is to find the connection between what a person is interested in and how that can be integrated into a wellness program.

A coach’s role isn’t to count the number of squats a person can do in a minute, how many laps they run or tell a person what they “should” be doing to stay active. Instead, health coaches start with open-ended questions, such as, “What are you interested in accomplishing?” and “What benefits do you get from the exercise or activity you are already doing?” These questions serve to isolate the behavioral psychology getting in the way of a person’s healthy choices. A coach may also want to identify a person’s fitness “style.”

What is fitness style and does it matter?

While there are hundreds of physical activities, most people fit into a couple of activity styles. Some people are driven by competition or reward, or are drawn to sports they played when they were younger. Some people prefer going to a gym where there are guidelines, machines and structure. Others merge physical fitness and hobbies or chores, such as in scenic bike rides, or doing yardwork and housework. Incorporating a favorite fitness style can be a game-changing element in someone’s willingness to follow through long-term.

For example, if a participant has a tight schedule, needs support to stay motivated, and enjoys socializing, a structured program designed around gym workouts may be highly successful. However, if someone has lots of time, likes watching sports on TV, and competes in fantasy football, he or she may do better joining an adult sports league. Still others may be significantly motivated by walking their dog. Every activity and every style can be a part of a successful journey to achieve particular fitness goals.

The importance of accountability

Once a health coach pinpoints a person’s interests, or what activities they engage in regularly, it’s easier to move from thinking about doing something active to actually begin doing it. Offering regular support and affirmative messages, a coach provides the important aspect of accountability. Knowing someone else is counting on them and looking forward to them showing up will help the participant stay committed. If other needs are identified, a health coach will provide recommendations and referrals as well.

Using aligned resources, evidence-based expertise, and conversation, combined with personal preference and style, health coaches can get a participant physically active now. And the best news? A program that applies these elements provides a greater chance the participant will continue to be active in the years ahead.

For more information on health coaching or how to design an effective corporate wellness program, contact us.

The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of your health care provider. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to your health care provider.