If you’d like to improve your general health and wellbeing, taking on a structured or time-framed challenge is a great way to focus your efforts and measure progress. You could choose from the list of challenges below, or you may be inspired by reading them to think of something else that really captures your imagination.
Challenge 1: Walk 10,000 steps every day
Remember that the more activity you fit into your routine, the more quickly the steps add up. A walk around the block in the mornings, moving around more during work time and a lunchtime stroll will all count. Keep moving as much as you can and you’ll be surprised at what you might be able to achieve each day.
Challenge 2: Walk or walk/run a mile every day
Don’t worry about the speed at which you run and it’s also fine if you need to take regular walking breaks. Focus on completing a mile each time. As you get fitter, the walking breaks will get shorter and you’ll be able to run for longer periods. If you’re already able to run a mile without stopping, then time yourself and see if you can get faster but there’s no need to try to beat your time on every run.
Challenge 3: Exercise for 15 minutes every day
Regular exercise can mean any form of activity that you can fit into your day and that you enjoy – be it brisk walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, yoga, Pilates – anything that gets your heart rate up and leaves you moderately out of breath or strengthens and tones your body. If it’s easier to break the 15 minutes down into three chunks of five minutes, that’s fine. It still counts.
Challenge 4: Drink at least 1.5 litres of water every day
Our bodies are made up of around 70 per cent water, so we need to stay hydrated. Being hydrated will not only increase your performance and mental concentration at work but water is also responsible for regulating metabolism and transporting nutrients around the body. So to ensure you're at your best both physically and mentally, get sipping throughout the day!
Challenge 5: Go to bed 30 minutes earlier
Over a seven-day period, this will add up to an extra three and a half hours of sleep which will boost your energy levels and enable your body to repair and recover effectively. Getting enough sleep will also improve brain function and mood.
Challenge 6: Eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day
Remember, frozen or tinned veg counts. Try having a bowl of fruit at your workstation and snack on fruit when you feel hungry, rather than opting for unhealthy snacks offering empty calories that will make it harder for you to manage your energy levels and your weight. Prepare some chopped vegetables to nibble on or dip into hummus.
Challenge 7: Go swimming three times a week
How many lengths you do each time will depend on your current fitness levels. If you’re new to swimming start with 6 to 10 lengths and try to add an extra 2 lengths each time. Your fitness will improve swiftly if you stick to this routine regularly and steadily increase your distance, and then add in some faster swimming every 4 or 5 lengths.
Challenge 8: Cut out processed foods as much as possible
Avoid ready meals and processed snacks and bars and make sure you only eat freshly prepared foods for the next month. Swap chocolate bars for nuts when you feel the need to snack (though don’t eat too many as they are high in calories). You’ll feel more energised and healthier.
Challenge 9: Have two meat-free days each week
Although it is high in protein and iron, too much red meat could lead to an increased risk of cancer according to the World Health Organisation and the American Institute for Cancer Research. It’s also high in saturated fat, which raises levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Opt regularly for fish or chicken based dishes and aim to keep two days per week meat free. This will help increase your cooking repertoire over time.
Challenge 10: Do ten minutes of stretching every day after work or at your desk
Regular stretching throughout the week will help ease any physical tension in the body and will also help you relax mentally.
Challenge 11: Get others involved
Set up an informal walking / running club or create a group on social media where you can share experiences and support each other with your lifestyle changes. Also, once you have told others on social media that you are organising an exercise group, aiming to get more sleep or eat more healthily, you’re more likely to stay motivated and stick with your plan.
Challenge 12: Enter an event
Committing to a sporting event, an organised challenge or something in aid of charity is a great way to focus your efforts and keep you on track. It could be a 5K run or a marathon across the dessert. It’s up to you what you aim for but having something in the diary that you’d really like to complete will make a real difference to your everyday decisions.
Challenge 13: Meditate every day
Set aside some time every day to step aside from the ‘busyness’ of life. Focus on your breathing and consciously relax your body. It can be tough at first to feel calm but the more you practice the easier it will be to put a pause into the day. It’s an amazing way to re-energise and stay on track with what really matters.