Challenges are funny things. I’ve always maintained reasonable fitness, but a continued sedentary work pattern and lots of driving meant I was far less active than I wanted to be.
Fortunately, I really enjoy exercising – whenever I cleave out spare time, it’s usually used for a run, walk, or yoga class, so thought I was fine.
A few months ago though, I realised I was sticking within some comfortable physical activity boundaries and since I knew a wee bit about being active, I assumed I could just increase the intensity when I needed. Aaaah, it wasn’t that easy. The mental challenge had begun.
When I tried to run faster or longer, I gave up too quickly, found many excuses not to do the extra power walk and weather was frequently putting me off (too hot, too windy, too dark). I had fallen into the trap that Sport Bay of Plenty often encourages people to overcome – I hadn’t set goals and prioritised them. Strangely, knowing that fact didn’t help me change the behaviour!
Then, a few key stars aligned: the Mt Everest Team Challenge started (thank you Waipuna Hospice!), and I had a bit of leave owing and heard about a great personal trainer.
The benefits of a new challenge were starting to come back to me. I remembered that when you have commit to meeting someone for a workout how much harder you work and mixing up the exercise means your mind never gets bored.
My personal trainer is fantastic. Not only does she make me work harder and in interesting ways, but we also set goals at the start of our relationship. The conversation during the workout is also great for clearing the mind and putting the stresses of the day into perspective.
A recent report released by Sport New Zealand, called The Value of Sport, shows 92% of people surveyed think physical activity helps them relieve stress. Mental wellbeing is one the greatest benefits of being active. Social connection, reducing isolation, building confidence and increased sense of belonging are all identified as key benefits in this report.
My experience, even as someone who lives and breathes the importance of physical activity as full time job, suggests that it is important to test your assumptions. There is a something to be said for overcoming the daily distractions of life and being active. A new challenge can be the solution to mix you the routine!