For as long as I can recall, I have always approached January with a challenge in mind. Whether it's to improve my fitness and lose weight, change my diet, or to save money. However, I find it can be quite difficult to carry out the challenge unless the goals are achievable, and there is a noticeable change to my health.
Looking back on 2019
At the start of 2019, I decided to take part in a challenge to exercise everyday. I took part in a daily exercise that took me no longer than 30 minutes to complete. I also included other forms of physical activity that I was able to stick to and undertake every day. Luckily, I had previously completed a 30-day challenge, which consisted of:
● Leg raises
● Stomach crunches
On most days, trying to find 30 minutes to exercise was pretty straightforward. However, factors like long working days, busy weekends and holidays, can make it very difficult to find the time to exercise. To my surprise, once I started the challenge, I felt more energized to follow it through. However, one rule I did apply was to make sure the volume of exercise increased as time went on.
As time went on I noticed a lot of positive changes to my health, particularly when I went running, I felt stronger and more stable. As I was progressing throughout the challenge, I noticed a lot of improvements to my overall health.
By the time the 31st of December came around, I was able to hold a plank for 5 minutes, complete 1000 crunches, 250 leg raises, and 70 press-ups every day.
How fitness helped my mental health
Despite having lots of positive changes to my physical health, I noticed my mental health was also changing when I exercised. I felt less stressed and more energized. I would recommend this challenge to people to support positive mental health and well being, especially as exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment.
The Mind charity
This year ICS is sponsoring Mind, the Mental Health charity, who specialise in offering support to the community on the topic of mental illness. They support those who are living with mental health problems or want to know more about them.
To raise money and awareness for Mind, ICS took part in several pledges to improve our mental and physical health, whilst raising awareness.
As I previously took part in the exercise everyday challenge, I felt this was a great opportunity to start again and participate in the January pledge, ‘exercise every day for a month’. Not only to continue my health improvement journey but to also support the Mind charity.
When taking part in the exercise everyday challenge, I would recommend a few things to support those who take part in the challenge.
Set specific personal goals
Setting personal goals for your challenge can be very motivating. It gives you something to strive towards. I set myself several fitness goals which helped me to stick to my challenge and ensure I completed it to the best of my ability.
Fitness / Progress Tracker
I used a fitness app called Nike Training Club. This was great for tracking my running distance, heart rate, and calories burnt. Some fitness apps act as a digital fitness coach which support you through your fitness journey. This helped me to track my progress and make sure I was achieving the goals I set myself.
As January has come to an end, I can happily say I’ve stuck to my fitness challenge and seen improvements to my fitness.
Since taking part in the challenge, I noticed a positive change to my mental health, I felt mentally brighter and had a much better outlook on the day, compared to before when I used to feel quite sluggish and moody, especially in the morning.
It would be great to know if any readers are taking part in any personal or charity challenges this year and how you are getting on with them. Please let me know in the comments below.
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