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After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  1. Describe the range of topics included in the field of psychology.

  2. Discuss the relationship of health and fitness.

  3. Explain the range of topics included in the field of health psychology.

  4. Summarize the topics studied in the field of exercise psychology.

  5. Explain how people's lifestyle behaviors affect their health.

  6. Describe the relationship between health behavior and risk of heart disease and other leading causes of death.

  7. Identify which health behaviors have the greatest impact on health.

  8. Describe the process of science and the scientific method.


image September, a brand-new school year. Evan is beginning his senior year of college and a required internship at a medical fitness center for his kinesiology degree. Evan loves sports and exercise, and he has always dreamed of opening his own club. Working in the medical fitness center is not at all what he expected to be doing when he chose his kinesiology major, but he learned in his program that medical fitness is an expanding market. As people live longer, they are dealing with more chronic illness, and exercise is recommended as part of their treatment. His advisor urges him to give this internship his best effort and to gain a deeper understanding of this area of employment.

One of his required courses this semester is "Psychology of Health and Fitness." Evan has excelled in exercise physiology and exercise prescription but does not know much about psychology. He hopes the course will help him "figure out" his new clients. Frankly, they puzzle him. Evan has had no problem telling people which exercises will build what muscles and can describe every possible exercise that can be done on each piece of equipment in the fitness center, but he does not feel like he is connecting very well with the clients. In fact, Carla, his supervisor, has moved him from the front desk to folding towels after several clients complained that Evan talked so fast they often could not follow what he was saying.

Folding towels is not what Evan wants to be doing tomorrow for his next shift at the medical fitness center. His internship is supposed to help him land his first real job in the fitness world. How is he going to make a better impression on Carla? How is he going to learn how to better connect with the clients?image

Most health and fitness professionals have heard their clients say, "I know what to do; I just can't get myself to do it." Part of becoming a successful health and fitness professional involves helping clients understand what they should do, in terms of changing their behavior to promote health and prevent disease.

The other part consists of teaching clients the skills and helping them find the motivation necessary to sustain health-promoting lifestyles. The ...

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