Working with clients on a day to day basis, and of course also having multiple other conversations about health topics with other people, I get the privilege of hearing people’s beliefs about health and exercise. Experience over two decades as a health professional has given me multiple opportunities to see the link between our beliefs and health outcomes. I know this is nothing new, and I hope you don’t glaze over when I start talking about ‘beliefs’…! But I do wonder how often we stop and take stock of the things we believe… and about the actions we take, as these predispose the outcomes and results we see.

For example, consider comments like the ones outlined below, and lets consider the beliefs that may give raise to them, and then the results they may lead to in regards to changing and improving health:

  • I get all the Exercise I need by walking
  • I’m scared to lift weights because I’ll injure myself
  • I was told Running is bad for my knees
  • And there are many others, influenced by the latest diet fad or new exercise modality.

The issue with most of these beliefs, is that most of them are received from people who give advice with good motives, but often without the appropriate education, experience, or scientific rigour that extends beyond n=1.

This is exactly why we created iNform!! We could see that people are often influenced by multiple sources of information, and as we all well know, these are not always factual.

The Link between Beliefs and Health Outcomes

Why is this conversation important? Because your beliefs will determine your actions. And your actions will determine the outcomes and results you get!

If you are mathematically minded this looks something like BELIEFS x ACTIONS = OUTCOMES

Most of the health advice we read focuses on changing our actions to affect our outcomes/results. This is clearly an important part of the process, after all, the majority of people fail to create change because of lack of actual action! But for those that have the motivation to start, and even start to implement good behaviours (actions), why is it that for most those behaviours don’t last? I would suggest that it is because their behaviours are not married to their beliefs. If there is a disconnect between what you believe, and what you have been externally motivated to do, those behaviours are unlikely to last.

So the first step I would encourage you to take is to examine your beliefs. What do you actually believe about health and fitness? for example, do you believe the eating well is important to you? Do you believe that to create physical change, you are likely to have to ‘step up’ the activities you do? Do you believe that physical pain is something that you can actually change? I would suggest that to take the next step you actually spend some time writing these beliefs down.

Once you have outlined your beliefs, we should explore as to whether these beliefs are based on evidence, to ensure that they actually lead to the changes you are after!

So are your health beliefs actually factual?

What I mean by the question above, is, are they supported by scientific evidence? Are they provided by professionals trained to understand scientific evidence and provide such advice? And importantly, is that advice tailored to your particular needs? Part of the problem with the example beliefs I outlined above is not that they are totally wrong… in fact, in some circumstances they may be right… But the fact that they can be right doesn’t mean that they are always right! They may only be right because of a combination of a number of other confounding factors, that may or may not apply to you. This is exactly where an educated, qualified and experienced health professional comes in. We can help you discern whether there is scientific support for your beliefs, and help you see clearly through the fog of popular opinion and unsubstantiated fads. We can help you work through pre-existing experiences, concerns and fears, to enable you to start positive action towards the sort of outcomes that will help you live the life you want! We are always happy to sit with you to work through this process with you. Please do contact us (or post a question below) if you feel this applies to you!

About the Author