Summer is here, the days are long, and the hills are whispering adventure. Short nights, balmy days – time to head outdoors, fill your lungs and feast your eyes on the natural world. And what better way than to sign up for a challenge. Who knows, it may even change your life.
Outdoors, outdoors, outdoors
Gyms are great, but they aren’t for everyone. Also, if the sun is smiling there’s nothing quite like exercising outdoors. So why not take your exercise schedule into the great blue yonder? There’s a glorious world out there, packed with fun and interesting challenges.
An organised challenge for everyone
From gentle walks to Olympic triathlons, from swimming the channel to a jog in the park, whether it’s a colour run, an obstacle course or a wheelchair challenge, there’s an organised event out there that’s right for you.
We all know how tough it can be to stick to an exercise routine – the road to heaven is littered with box-fresh running shoes. But sign up for a challenge, put your name down next to a friend’s, part with a little cash, and you’ve made a commitment – and (hopefully) set yourself an achievable goal.
Make it a stretch
Give yourself a push. Pick an event that’ll stretch you. That way you’ll have to put in some training hours. Build it up over a couple of months and you’ll notice the benefits – and the big day will be much more fun. There’s also a chance you’ll get the exercise habit. Once you’ve reaped the mental and physical benefits of regular exercise it can be tough to give them up.
Most outdoor challenges involve an element of endurance – putting in the miles. Do it properly and the benefits of endurance challenges – for body and mind – are huge. Here are just a few:
· Muscles, joints, heart and lungs are all given a boost
· The right exercise can improve cognitive power and mental clarity – great for problem solving on the run
· There’s a meditative effect with most endurance sports – it’s all in the rhythm – which can improve mental strength and resilience
And don’t forget the feelgood factor: nailing a big challenge can leave you on cloud nine for days.
Why not make it social?
Although some of us like to fly solo, for many, challenges are great social events. Signing up with a buddy, or a whole posse, can make a massive difference. Doing a challenge with friends can help you stick to exercise routines, lift flagging morale during the event, and create wonderful shared memories – as well as give you a competitive spur.
Most challenges have a fun side and they can be a great way of meeting new people and making new friends – nothing like a shared adventure for forging bonds. One great way of meeting people – and getting yourself fighting fit for the day – is to join a club. There’ll be huge amounts of expertise – and inspiration – on tap. Other people’s enthusiasm can be contagious.
And don’t forget – most challenges are affiliated with charities, so they can be a great way of doing your bit for others.