Done it! I’ve signed up for two sporting challenges in 2020. For so many people, the motivational value of putting your name in the frame for an event is second to none. It focuses the mind, it adds impetus to your training and it allows you to talk to friends and family about physical activity without feeling like – well a bit of a freak!
Sporting challenges to replace the weekend fixtures
Every year, since I stopped playing high level, regular sport, I have tried to give myself a few tough sporting challenges. For many people, once they have stopped playing weekend sport, be it football, rugby, hockey or any other sport, then a sudden hole appears in their lives and they need to fill it. For some people, this might translate into family commitments. A son or daughter may well take up the mantle of sporting household hero. As mum or dad, uncle or aunt, you suddenly find you are coach/manager/tea-person/taxi driver. That is all well and good, but you also need to look after your own physical and mental health.
Sporting challenges good for physical and mental health
Physical sporting challenges address both those areas. Training for an event will keep you fit and healthy as you pound out the miles or cycle the distance. And the mental benefits of exercise are equally recognised. Stress relief, self-confidence, self-efficacy – the list is compelling.
The challenges can cover a whole range of activities. For some people, it is all about the physical challenge. The longest cycle ride, the toughest adventure race, the wildest swim. For others, it might encompass a more cerebral challenge – learning a new skill, taking up a new activity. Learning a dance, taking up archery – whatever the challenge, if it pushes you to attain something then it is doing good.
When it comes to picking your sporting challenges, The Australian fitness website Betterhealth.vic.gov.au has this advice:
“Pick an activity (or range of activities) that appeals to you. Also choose activities that you are confident you can manage physically, and that suit your lifestyle and your income. Choose an activity that is close to home or work.”
Set realistic goals
And here at Kelsey Kerridge, we would add, make sure you set realistic goals. For example, rather than aiming for a set amount of weight loss, aim for four activity sessions per week. You will find the weight loss comes more easily if you are not desperately seeking for it to happen.
We all have different motivations to exercise. Think about how you feel when you’re exercising and how you feel after you’ve exercised. Keep in mind your personal fitness goals to help you on those days when you don’t feel like lacing up your trainers.
Remember also that research indicates you don’t need to lose weight to gain significant health benefits. Sometimes it is all about toning and redefining muscles rather than shifting pounds.
Top tips to help achieve your sporting challenges
Start small. Aim to just include more general activity into your day, working toward a continuous bout of exercise for about 10 minutes per day at first, and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes or more.
Find a friend or family member to be active with. Motivate and reward each other and enjoy the process together.
Replace the ‘no pain no gain’ message with ‘no fun no future’. If you don’t enjoy your activity, it won’t be sustainable.
This is obviously important to you or you would not have taken the steps to change your behaviour, so make exercise a priority in your life.
Make the commitment. Put ‘exercise appointments’ in your diary, at least for the first few weeks, until exercise becomes a habit.
For me, the challenges have to have an extraneous meaning. For that reason I am doing events that support charities. But what fires your motivation is a personal thing, so find your physical mojo and hit 2020 running.
We wish you all a successful, happy and healthy 2020!