As Registered Dietitians we know that 80% of Americans do not meet recommended physical activity levels and 45% are not active enough to improve their health. Studies show that health care professionals who prescribe physical activity fail to motivate clients to move more. Many clients look at this well-intentioned prescription as a chore – one that they may get around to if conditions are perfectly aligned.
Dietitians can inspire clients to lead active lives by:
1. Focusing on joyful movement: too many people believe they have to be sporting spandex and pumping iron in a gym for exercise to count – even though they hate doing it. Helping them discover what movement feels good to them and validating their individuality sets them up for success with sustained activity. Encourage them to think outside the box, or gym, and embrace dancing, playing, or hiking for example.
2. Identifying the right “why”: According to Michelle Segar, author of “No Sweat,” helping people discover why they choose to move is the key to sustaining that movement. The “right why” motivates them because it is relevant and meaningful to their daily lives (such as having more energy today). The “wrong why” leaves them feeling depleted and discouraged especially when the goal they are trying to achieve is a distant and daunting goal (such as losing 50 pounds).
3. Communicating that exercise is not just a means to an end: When exercise is viewed as a vehicle to lose weight or to meet a certain lab value, once that goal is attained, the exercise is forgotten. Helping people shape their lives centered around joyful movement with the right why sets them up for a lifetime of activity, not just as a means to an end.
Maria McConville, MS,RDN,CPT,CWC
Secretary, Nutrition Entrepreneurs