Exercise is a primary part of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s tricky to integrate into your daily schedule. Movement helps tone the muscles, improve heart health, reduce stress, and maintain your body weight. In addition, it alters hormone levels so that you feel and look your best. It’s safe to say that fitness is an important part of any person’s health regimen. To overcome the roadblocks that come with starting a new habit, we’ve come up with a 30-day kickstart to fitness challenge.
This challenge will teach you new exercises, inspire you to find movement you love, and ultimately develop strong fitness habits that will last a lifetime. Each day provides a new challenge, which will expose you to a variety of types of fitness as well as help you overcome fear of certain physical activities. Of course, you are free to substitute other forms of exercises, rest if you need a day off, or keep up a certain exercise that you end up enjoying. The end goal of the challenge is to get you excited about moving, so these are just guidelines for your journey to a fit life. Remember to consult your doctor before trying out a new fitness routine.
Day 1: Go for a walk for 30 minutes. You can definitely go longer if you want, but shoot for at least 30 minutes. Walking outside not only provides movement, but stress relief as well. Get outside and use it as a time to clear your mind or go with a friend to talk and catch up. The low-level movement burns fat. Walking is something you can do anywhere and at anytime if you need a quick option.
Day 2: Hit up a local fitness class in your community. Many gyms offer free trials for group fitness and websites such as Groupon offer deals when it comes to class packages. This is an ideal way to find a gym that’s a good fit for you and your fitness wants and needs.
Day 3: Time for a bodyweight challenge! Complete three sets of 15 repetitions of bodyweight squats, push-ups, lunges, and triceps dips. If you need to, decrease the amount of repetitions or sets. If you want to increase the challenge, tack on some extra repetitions or sets. You can also replace some of the bodyweight exercises with other movements of your choice.
Day 4: Practice yoga. There are many free yoga practice videos on YouTube. All you need is your laptop or cell phone and a mat. Yoga increases flexibility and decreases stress, which are both essential for a healthy body.
Day 5: Try the plank challenge. Aim to complete 10 planks throughout the day. Shoot for 30-60 seconds for each plank. Remember to keep your hands under your shoulders in the starting push-up position with your glutes down. This works the transversus abdominis
Day 6: Go on a run. It doesn’t have to be long, but try to hit at least one mile. Running increases your cardiovascular capacity so that your heart can pump more efficiently. Not to mention, it also builds up your leg muscles.
Day 7: It’s stretching day! Read about five stretches of your choice (depending what body parts are sore) and get to it. Stretching increases mobility, so it’s important to the foundation of your fitness regimen.
Day 8: Hit the weights! If you don’t have much experience with weights, it’s a good idea to enlist a personal trainer to help you with the basics. Try for a full body workout with compound movements like squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, and rows. This builds muscle, which increases your calorie-burning lean muscle mass.
Day 9: Make your fitness fun by busting out your dance moves. Turn up your favorite jams and dance. Go for at least 20 minutes to make sure that you break a sweat, laugh, and move your body.
Day 10: Play a sport. This doesn’t have to be competitive! Sports are an excellent way to move your body without thinking about the actual mechanics of fitness. You can focus on a fun game and reap the physical benefits at the same time. Look for recreational leagues or grab a few friends and play catch, kick the soccer ball, throw the frisbee, or throw the football.
Day 11: Take a hike. Find a scenic location in your community for a trail hike. Hiking is a low-level aerobic activity that not only increases your cardiovascular capacity, but also adds to your muscular endurance capabilities.
Day 12: Try out a new workout machine. Gyms offer all different types of machines such as the stairmaster, elliptical, erg and bikes to name a few. Have a gym attendant or personal trainer teach you about the machine and try it out. You’ll be so busy learning about the new workout options that you won’t even notice that you are working out.
Day 13: Grab a friend and accompany them at their workout. People gravitate toward specific workouts, so tagging along with your friend will no doubt give you new idea to implement in your next exercise session.
Day 14: Go for a leisurely bike ride. The pedaling action recruits different muscles in your legs than what you use for running and other typical forms of cardio movement. In addition, it will get you outside in nature which decreases stress.
Day 15: Complete yardwork. It depends what type of weather you are experiencing, but whether it’s shoveling snow off the driveway or mowing the lawn, you are sure to get in a solid amount of movement. Most chores require movement and the best part is that it’s functional movement so you can get work done at the same time.
Day 16: Sprint it out! Hit up your local track and try sprinting on the straightaways and jogging or walking on the curves. Repeat this series for at least a mile (four laps).
Day 17: Participate in a push-up challenge. Drop down and complete five sets of 10 repetitions of push-ups throughout the day. Perfect push-up form includes hands under your shoulders, a horizontal back, and a neutral head position. Lower down so that your chest touches the ground and your elbows go back at 45-degree angles.
Day 18: Test your endurance with a stairs workout. Find a stairway and set your timer for 15 minutes. Run up to the top and jog or walk back down. Increase or decrease the challenge by changing the amount of minutes.
Day 19: Go to the playground for some fun fitness. Bring out your inner kid at the playground with some simple and effective exercises the utilize the equipment. Check out this workout for an example: http://greatist.com/fitness/bodyweight-playground-workout. If you’d rather make up your own, go for the intuitive route and swing, hit up the monkey bars, and just have fun with the basic movements.
Day 20: Clean your house or room. It has to be done anyway, so you might as well recognize the fitness benefits. When you vacuum, dust, wipe counters, and put away items, you are engaging all different muscles and sometimes even working up a sweat. Functional movement is great because it utilizes muscles and muscle patterns that are important for everyday tasks.
Day 21: Create your own workout. Time to use some creativity from all of the previous days of the challenge! Make up a workout that uses exercises that you find enjoyable. This can include everything from yoga moves to running to compound weightlifting.
Day 22: Free for all. This is your chance to pick one of your favorite activities that involve movement. This can be something you learned during the challenge or something you have always wanted to do. For example, you can try something more adventurous like rock climbing or keep it low key with a walk or fitness video.
Day 23: Hit the hills. Running or walking up hills not only challenges your cardiovascular capabilities, it also tones the back of the legs and the butt. Find a fairly steep hill and run up and down it 5-10 times. This will provide an interval workout while raising and lowering your heart rate.
Day 24: Jump your heart out! Grab a jump rope for a quick burst of cardio. Set a timer for 10 minutes and jump for 30 seconds with 30 seconds off. This interval-style workout will blast calories and give you a good sweat.
Day 25: Utilize the medicine ball. The medicine ball is a workout tool that can be utilized for many types of exercises, so it’s good to add it to your fitness toolbox. For an example of some medicine ball moves, try these exercises: http://greatist.com/fitness/25-must-try-medicine-ball-exercises.
Day 26: Try a water sport such a paddle boats or kayaks. Travel to a local lake for a kayaking or paddle boating session. These activities work your upper body in a fun and functional way. Not to mention, you decrease stress levels by enjoying the nature sights.
Day 27: Go to a trampoline park! Check the Internet for a local trampoline park and go jump around with your friend for a couple of hours. You won’t even notice you are working out and you’ll get a solid cardio session in.
Day 28: Work on your wall-sits. Wall-sits can be performed anywhere. All you need is your body and a wall to put your back against. Sit down into a 90-degree angle so that your knees aren’t going over your toes. Engage your abs, breathe, and try holding the squat position for one minute. Repeat five times.
Day 29: Take on a dumbbell workout. Dumbbells are a useful gym tool for strength training. For example dumbbell workouts and exercises, check out this workout: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/lookup/filter/equipment/id/1/equipment/dumbbell.
Day 30: Go for a swim. Swimming is a great workout if you’ve got sore muscles or an injury. The low-impact movement is great for both cardio and muscular endurance. Gyms also offer water aerobic classes if you are looking for some guidance in the pool.