It’s the perfect time to try a 30-day challenge

Thirty days seems to have become the new ‘magic’ number – 30 days to master a new workout; 30 days to lose 3kg; 30 days to create a new habit or kick an old, unhealthy one. But is it really?

According to science, it’s not. On average, it takes 66 days for a new habit to feel automatic, according to a 2010 UK study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

But don’t dismiss the concept out of hand, especially now during lockdown…You see, while 30 days may not be the magic number needed to create life-altering habits that stick (it might also take more than 66 days), the idea of doing something consistently for 30 days in a row has its merits.

Break the rut

At the very least, committing to a new challenge for 30 consecutive days or a calendar month has the potential to break you out of your lockdown rut. And if you choose wisely, it can push you out of your comfort zone on a more regular basis.

Self improvement

If you commit to this approach, you could also emerge from lockdown a better person in some small way, be it physically, mentally, intellectually, spiritually, musically, heck, even professionally (depending on the type of challenge you take on). And the great thing is, anyone can do it.

Keep things interesting

In the context of training, it can make your weekly routine less, umm, routine. This approach also ensures that motivation levels remain high by expanding our horizons and exposing us to something potentially new and interesting.

This could take the form of a simple 30-day push-up or squat challenge, which normally entails performing a specified number of reps each day (if you’re using an app, for example) or progressively adding a few more reps at each subsequent session.

Stretch your goals

And success breeds success, which could provide the motivation you need to really push your boundaries through the transformative power of continuous progression.

By setting ourselves stretch targets – putting the proverbial goal posts a little further each time we achieve something – we start to build confidence, which is a trait that is often transferable to many other areas of our lives.

By constantly setting goals that are difficult but achievable, you also build a broader set of skills and consequently become stronger, which makes you capable of stretching yourself even further.

And that is the principle on which the 30-challenge trend should be viewed and why you should embrace this popular self-improvement trend now, while you have more time to commit.

You don’t need to become an expert at anything after 30-days, just a better version of your previous self in some small way.

Create your own challenge

  1. Set a specific goal.
  2. Set a start date (starting on the 1st of month is ideal)
  3. Perform that task for 30 consecutive days in accordance with your goal.
  4. If you slip up, start again. A 30-challenge means 30 days in a row.

Our top 30-day challenge ideas:

30-day foam rolling challenge: Roll for 10 minutes every day.

30-day education challenge: Choose a topic (fitness related is a great start). Download an e-book or Kindle version onto your smartphone. Divide the total number of pages by 30 to set your daily reading target. Use whatever free time you have each day to read that number of pages.

30-day mobility challenge: Spend just 10-minutes a day performing mobility work instead of stretching. The results after 30 days should change your daily approach indefinitely.

30-day no sugar challenge: Cut out all forms of refined or processed sugar from your diet for 30 days. That includes added sugar in manufactured foods. Hopefully, after a month you won’t ever want to included it in your diet again. 30-day no snack challenge: No snacking on anything outside of your scheduled five small healthful meals each day.

30-day straight outta bed challenge: Roll out of bed and start exercising in whatever you way you choose for 30 days.

30-day real food challenge: Eat only real, natural food that comes directly from the ground or an animal. Avoid anything that has more than five ingredients, has been processed, manufactured or comes in a box.

30-day journal challenge: Spend 30 days making notes on everything in your life, from how you slept and for how long, to what you ate, how you felt, what you drank, how you exercised, what you did during the day, your decisions and your thoughts and emotions. This will shed light on many areas of your life and may even inform your next 30-day challenge.

30-day squat +1 challenge: On day 1, perform as many bodyweight squats as you can in one set. Add one extra rep (either bodyweight or loaded squats) to that total on each subsequent day.

30-day yoga challenge: Jump onto YouTube and follow a different 30-minute yoga workout each day. The changes to mind, body and spirit should leave a lasting difference in your life. 

30-day healthy cooking challenge: Find 30 interesting healthful recipes and try one every day for 30 days. There should be a few that find their way into your normal eating plan thereafter.

30-day willpower challenge: Train your willpower by making a commitment, be it abstaining or performing a simple task each day for 30-days. Any subsequent need to practise some degree of willpower will become that much easier.

30-day gratitude challenge: Take a few minutes each day to think about and write down one thing you’re grateful for each day. After 30 days you’ll realise just how good your life really is, despite its challenges and the all the other things that affect us in daily life.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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