A 30 day fitness challenge can jump-start an exercise program and improve fitness. Plan how to do a 30 day fitness challenge to stay motivated and injury-free.
If you are thinking about taking your exercise regimen up a notch, or if you’re a couch potato who has decided it’s time to get fit, participating in a 30 day fitness challenge may be just the boost you need.
Challenges vary in intensity and kinds of exercises they involve, although they typically encompass a variety of cardiovascular and muscle strengthening workouts. You can participate in a fitness challenge with a friend or on social media by sharing your progress — or you can do a fitness challenge solo.
If you are wondering how to do a 30 day fitness challenge, information about different kinds of fitness challenges is available at health clubs and gyms, discussed on social media, and available on smartphone apps. Some challenges involve yoga, others emphasize a mix of running and weights, while still others involve sports participation or exercises you can do alone with no equipment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers several weekly exercise plans that can easily be adapted to a 30 day challenge — they vary in time and intensity and need no special equipment, except for free weights.
However, before you launch into any fitness challenge, planning is key for both safety and to stay motivated to meet your 30 day goal.
Making sure a fitness challenge is safe for you
How to do a 30 day fitness challenge safely involves taking stock of your health status before you begin.
“The current level of activity, fitness, and health are important components of how someone will respond to a fitness challenge,” notes R.L. Felipe Lobelo, MD, PhD, chair of the American Heart Association’s Physical Activity Committee.
If you haven’t had a check-up recently, ask your doctor if the challenge you have in mind is right for you. It’s especially important if you have a condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes that isn’t well controlled (or if you suspect you may have one of these conditions), and you haven’t seen your doctor in the past 12 months, according to Lobelo. You may need a stress test or EKG before starting a health challenge.
“We don’t want these health conditions to be a barrier to people being active, but we want to minimize any risks by making sure a specific exercise plan is safe for them,” says Lobelo.
If you are new to exercise, jumping into intense physical activity you aren’t used to can lead to injuries and back pain.
“The key is to start slow and gradually increase duration, frequency, and intensity,” advises Lobelo, who is an associate professor at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health.
Get moving before your challenge begins
If you are new to exercise or if your planned challenge is higher intensity than you are used to, it’s a good idea to condition yourself before your fitness challenge officially starts, according to Lobelo.
“Remember, even professional athletes in the NFL and NBA do pre-season conditioning, and they are already fit,” he explains. “It helps avoid injuries later on.”
To prepare for your month-long fitness challenge, Lobelo recommends doing moderate exercise 20 minutes a day, three times a week. Then increase your workouts by 10 to 20 minutes each week until you can tolerate 45 minutes at a time, four or five times a week.
Getting motivated for a 30 day fitness challenge
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends most healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. You also need regular exercise to work and strengthen all major muscle groups. But few Americans meet these guidelines.
“My sense is 80 percent or more of the population can be considered inactive or not doing enough physical activity to begin with,” says Lobelo. “So, the vast majority of Americans are not going to be physically ready, and perhaps not motivationally ready, to complete a fitness challenge especially if it is intense.”
However, working on ways to boost your motivation as you plan how to do a 30 day fitness challenge can help you complete it — and hopefully inspire you to make more exercise an ongoing part of your life.
“People who are successful completing fitness challenges and integrating exercise into their lives for the long haul are those who understand the importance of fitness for good health, and they also have found ways to make working out less of a chore and more enjoyable,” Lobelo points out.
Wondering what sort of activities would keep you on a month-long fitness challenge? Consider what activity you liked to do in your younger years, even as a child, that was enjoyable. It can be a sport, like shooting baskets if you once played basketball.
“You don’t have to necessarily go back to playing a sport at a super high level to get back to it for exercise, “Lobelo says. “Your muscles have memory and it can be more enjoyable to get your brain back into it and make it more social, too. Anything that makes working out enjoyable and not boring will help keep you motivated.”
More tips from exercise expert Lobelo for keeping your motivation up for a 30 day fitness challenge success:
- Pick an activity, or a mix of activities, you like and that fit into your daily schedule.
- Set a goal that’s reasonable for you. For example, if you aim to exercise five times a week for 30 days — and you start off with just 10 minutes of walking — consider completing the activity consistently as a win. Remember, you can always gradually increase the time and intensity.
- Expect some muscle pain and fatigue if you are doing things you aren’t used to. Being a little sore is perfectly normal. You may need to cut back on your exercise time but, as long as you aren’t injured, don’t give up!
May 29, 2018