Having healthy conversations

Healthy conversations support individuals to take control and make positive lifestyle changes.

Your friends and family are more likely to stick to healthy habits if they take the lead. Nagging them into submission is rarely effective in the long-term. Instead:

  • introduce a conversation about physical activity or health
  • ask open questions to help them identify changes they’d like to make
  • offer advice and encouragement
  • help them take that important first step
  • celebrate every small achievement

Your 5-step guide

Start a conversation about physical activity or health

Think about how you could tie physical activity or health into your regular conversations so it doesn’t feel forced. For example, if you normally talk about  mutual friends, find someone who has been posting about physical activity on social media. Or talk about an article you’ve read or something you’ve seen on TV. National physical activity campaigns like This Girl Can and We Are Undefeatable can be great conversation starters.

Another technique is to observe something about your friend or ask how they’re feeling at the moment.

Once you’ve opened the conversation, this gives you the opportunity to follow-up with a question.

Ask open questions

However you choose to open the conversation, it’s good to follow up with an open question. This could be something like:

  • what do you think about being active?
  • which activities would you like to try?
  • how do you feel when you’re active?
  • what makes you feel better?
  • what needs to change?

Listen out for positive ideas or openings for follow-up questions.

Offer advice and encouragement

This is the point at which you support your friend to grow a healthy idea. They might tell you that they’ve thought about being active or that they used to enjoy playing sport. Encourage them by telling them it’s great that they’ve thought about it or used to do something.

Don’t be put off if they tell you they hate sport. Ask them what they do enjoy and get them thinking about how you could build a walk or some form of movement into that.

Help them get to the first step

Once you’ve helped them to grow a healthy idea, support them to take action. There are lots of tools and activities in our Get Active toolkit that could help them take the first step. Or you could ask if they’d like some company and find an activity to do together. This could help them stay motivated and give you more time together.

Celebrate every achievement

Make sure you celebrate every small achievement, whether it’s going to their first class or sleeping better as a result. This helps to reinforce healthy habits.

Read next

Where to look for activities

Useful resources to help you find suitable activities.

Keeping friends and family safe

How can you make sure your friends and family are safe?

Common reasons for not being active

Gain a better understanding of why many people aren't active.

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