Physical Activity Challenges to Help You Bust Out of Your Comfort Zone
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, according to author Neale Donald Walsch. It is only when you step outside that zone and push yourself to try new experiences that you begin to truly feel like you're living. Here are some ways to help you get there.
Why you need a good challenge
As an adult, it's easy to find yourself stuck in the same routines, especially when it comes to exercise. Unless you roll with a group of adventure-seeking friends, opportunities to try something new aren't always readily apparent. And even when they are, you may be reluctant to jump in.
Maintaining active habits, such as a weekly spin class or a morning walk, has several benefits. After all, consistency leads to lasting results. Unfortunately, most people find themselves in the habit of being sedentary more often than active. That's when a fitness challenge can be the perfect remedy to pull you out of a rut.
Try something you've never done before
If you're an adult who never learned to swim or ride a bike, it's not too late. Have you always wanted to try archery, rock climbing or salsa dancing? Why not make up for lost time and go after your goals now? It takes bravery to venture into uncharted territory. Mustering the courage to tackle the unknown can build confidence that seeps into other areas of your life.
Rekindle an old pastime
Of course, if you're not new to exercise, you may not need to start from scratch. If you were a ballet dancer, tennis player or track star in high school, there's a barre class, round-robin tournament or running group just waiting for you to join. Look into your town's parks and recreation department or adult continuing education classes. Gyms, YMCAs and boutique fitness classes have more to offer than you think. Picking up an old hobby can remind you of your younger self, fueling motivation for continued self-improvement and growth.
Sign up for a big event
Without a timeline, your goals may too often find themselves on the back burner. By signing up for a big event—5k race, adult obstacle course, mud run, hiking trip—we create a sense of urgency. It's harder to blow off your Saturday workout when you know there are only a few weeks left until a big event. Plus, research shows that having activities to look forward to is essential to our mental health. Without a clear milestone in place, it's likely "someday" may never come.
Get a trainer who pushes you
Accountability is critical when it comes to making a change. Unfortunately, your friends and family aren't always the best people to rely on for your committing to physical activity. It's easy to make excuses or get a pass from the people who are close to you. Hiring a trainer will bring an objective outsider to provide structure, guidance and push you past your limits to achieve meaningful progress.
Don't rely on a gym membership or equipment
Gyms and exercise equipment advertisers sell you the dream of a fit lifestyle. At-home workout machines rarely deliver on those promises, however. That's because when left to our own devices, we tend to default to old habits. Seeing a piece of exercise equipment or a gym card isn't usually enough of a trigger for behavioral change, at least not for more than a month or so. Just look at the fact that Americans spend more than $1 billion in gym memberships each year that they don't even use.
Instead of buying a product or membership, sign up to do something where you'll be accountable to a group or an instructor. Put training on your calendar rather than assuming you'll find ways to squeeze it in. With a new activity, strength building and calorie burning will be a side effect rather than your sole purpose.