Health Benefits of Physical Activity: A Strengths-Based Approach
2. Brief Summary of the Evidence
3. A Strengths-Based Approach and Effective Knowledge Mobilization
- Children today will have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
- If you are inactive or sedentary, your chances of dying prematurely rise markedly.
- You must attain a certain level of physical activity to achieve health benefits.
- Our children and adults are receiving failing grades with respect to physical activity participation.
- Goal Orientation: A strengths-based approach is foremost goal-oriented and person-centered. In this phase, clients establish the goals for their life. For instance, clients could establish the goals that they would like to achieve related to physical activity, exercise, health, and wellness in their future. A practitioner can be an active participant in the discussion of these goals, but should allow clients to fully articulate their desires and aspirations  related to health and wellness and life in general.
- Strength Assessment: The clients are supported to recognize the inherent strengths and resources at their disposal that can be used to offset any difficulty or condition. This often relates to current strengths; however, the past may be mined for previous strengths (assets, talents, resources) that may have been lost or forgotten. It is essential to focus on the strengths of each person and not on the problems, deficits, or disease condition . For example, clients that aspire to become healthier can recognize the activities that they enjoy, what works for them, and the opportunities for doing these activities with their family and within their community.
- Resources from the Environment: This refers to how a person’s environment can be rich in resources that allow the client to achieve his/her aspirations. This includes individuals, groups, associations, and institutions that may provide resources and/or support for the client. A practitioner can serve as the conduit (linkage) to these resources . For instance, a client desiring to become more physically active may contact a qualified exercise professional to determine the resources available within the community related to physical activity. The exercise professional can assist the client in identifying the opportunities and resources available for becoming more physically active .
- Explicit Methods Are Used for Identifying Client and Environmental Strengths for Goal Attainment: There are a variety of strengths-based approaches to meet the goals and aspirations of the client. There will be subtle differences in how each of the strengths-based techniques will be applied . For instance, solution-focused therapy has been increasingly used within clinical settings , wherein clients will set goals and then identify relevant strengths (such as what works now, what may work in the future) . In strengths-based case management approaches, clients will go through a tailored “strengths-assessment” that assists the client in establishing goals, generating resource options and opportunities, setting short-term goals and tasks, and directing roles and responsibilities . In cardiac rehabilitation and exercise settings, it is not uncommon for practitioners to make use of different strengths-based approaches to support clients in enhancing their health and wellbeing .
- Relationship is Hope-Inducing: Strengths-based approaches are designed to enhance the hopefulness of the client. Hope can be realized by finding strengths and through empowering relationships with others, communities, and/or culture. This process allows clients to increase their perceptions regarding their abilities, enhance clients’ options and perceptions of these options, and increase the confidence and opportunities of clients to choose and act on these choices . In physical activity promotion, identifying strengths related to physical activity participation and connecting with other people, communities, and culture can build hope towards enhancing health and wellbeing .
- Meaningful Choice: Central to a strengths-based approach is the belief that clients are the experts in their own lives. The practitioner’s role is to enhance and explain choices, encouraging clients to make their own informed decisions and choices [51,52]. Through a strengths-based approach in physical activity promotion, we can support self-empowerment and self-determination wherein clients have control over their health and wellbeing. By being active participants in their own health and wellbeing, there are also greater learning opportunities for clients, such as facilitating a greater understanding of the importance of routine physical activity participation for health and wellness.
5. Key Take-Home Message
Conflicts of Interest
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|Instead of These Weakness Statements…||…Try These Strength Statements|
|Adults should engage in at least 150 min of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a weekly basis.||We are excited about the potential for small changes in physical activity to lead to marked health and wellness benefits, particularly in inactive individuals. Simply by moving more, we can improve the health and wellbeing of society.|
|Our children today will die at a younger age than their parents.||We have a great opportunity to address challenges such as obesity to enhance the health and wellbeing of our children through physical activity and other healthy lifestyle behaviors.|
|Children and adults have received a failing grade with respect to physical activity.||Many children and adults are active and reaping the benefits of routine physical activity. Building on the inherent strengths and resources available to children and adults, we can work together to meet the goal of being healthier and feeling better.|
|If you are inactive or sedentary your chances of dying prematurely rise markedly.||By moving more and sitting less, we can achieve the goal of a healthier society.|
|Like the majority of Canadians, I am physically inactive and therefore do not get all of the benefits associated with physical activity.||I look forward to building on my strengths, to become more active so that I can achieve the health and wellness benefits associated with physical activity.|
|I live with a chronic medical condition and am fearful of engaging in exercise.||I am happy to hear that physical activity is of benefit and quite safe for virtually everyone, including people living with chronic medical conditions.|
|I have been told that in order to achieve health benefits, I must engage in at least 150 min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on a weekly basis.||I am excited to know that small changes in physical activity levels can lead to significant health benefits. By making small changes in my activities, I can meet my goal to be happier and healthier.|
|I do so little physical activity daily that it is hard to imagine that I could meet international recommendations.||I realize that I do not need to engage in large amounts of physical activity to take control over my health and wellbeing.|
|My lifestyle habits and patterns have made me weak and susceptible to dying early and developing several chronic medical conditions.||I will build upon my strengths and the support of my family to be healthier. If I make small changes, one at a time, I will surprise myself by how much I can achieve.|
|I find many physical activities not enjoyable.||I will focus on physical activities that are enjoyable, so I can experience the multiple benefits of being physical active.|
|I do not enjoy exercising on my own.||My family and friends are excited to help me on my journey to become more physically active.|
|In the past, I have doubted myself about my ability to become more physically active on a routine basis.||I have a strong conviction to be more active and healthier. I am excited about my potential to be more active and healthier for years to come.|
|I do not feel confident about my ability to be physically active.||Looking at my inherent strengths and the support of my family and community, I feel empowered to become more physically active.|
|I feel helpless and do not know what to do.||Building on my strengths and available support systems, I can have greater control over my health and wellbeing. I have a strong sense of hope and optimism for my future.|
|I do not have enough time.||I can take the limited time that I have available to make small changes in my activity patterns.|
|When working with exercise professionals in the past, I have had little control over my activity programming.||By working together with exercise professionals, we can discuss my aspirations so that I am empowered to be more active and healthier.|
|I do not have a good understanding of the best way of becoming more physically active.||I look forward to working with experts and other members from my family or community on exploring the best ways to become more active and healthier.|
|I do not know of all of the opportunities available to me in my community.||Working together with my family, others from my community, and/or practitioners, I can gain a greater understanding of the physical activity resources that are available to me within my own community.|
|I cannot afford the costs associated with being physically active.||I am excited to engage in free activities that can be done within my own community with my family and friends.|
|I am fearful of the challenges associated with exercising with others.||I am hopeful of the strengthened relationships that I can develop through physical activity with my family and community.|
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Warburton, D.E.R.; Bredin, S.S.D. Health Benefits of Physical Activity: A Strengths-Based Approach. J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8, 2044. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8122044
Warburton DER, Bredin SSD. Health Benefits of Physical Activity: A Strengths-Based Approach. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2019; 8(12):2044. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8122044Chicago/Turabian Style
Warburton, Darren E. R., and Shannon S. D. Bredin. 2019. "Health Benefits of Physical Activity: A Strengths-Based Approach" Journal of Clinical Medicine 8, no. 12: 2044. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8122044