Here in Chicago, many people are beginning their final phase of training for the annual Chicago Marathon which is one month away. We admire these dedicated individuals for the courage and discipline needed to take on and conquer such a challenge.
When it comes to staying physically healthy, challenging our bodies to perform is important. When we ask our body to rise to a challenge, as long as it is not beyond what is safely within our capabilities, it responds by adapting to the workload which increases our strength and endurance.
But the good news is that we don't have to be marathon runners to experience the benefits of embracing a physical challenge. There are many health benefits to be gained by embracing some small challenges and the advantage of small challenges is that they are easily incorporated into everyday life. Detailed training plans and an extensive time investment are not required. Please allow me to share an example from my own life on how setting up small challenges can produce some big health benefits.
My husband, Bob, travels a great deal for business and so, when I can, I try to go with him when he is going to someplace of interest. This past July we took a trip to San Francisco. I have found that setting up some small challenges when we are travelling is a good idea because they keep me focused on getting some level of exercise when I am out of my usual routine. Small challenges work well because they don't require a great deal of planning and they can be easily fit into my travel itinerary.
Everyone knows that San Francisco is famous for its cable cars. And those cable cars were invented for a very good reason - STEEP HILLS! We were staying in a hotel just off of California Street and to get to many tourist destinations, the hill (almost 20% grade at its steepest) had to be traversed somehow. So, I made up my mind to challenge myself to, at least once, climb that hill to get to where I needed to go. I'm happy to report that I was able to successfully make it up that hill and it felt good to be able to do so. But the point is that the thought of taking on the small challenge of that hill had an influence on my behavior the weeks before. When I walked the dog at home, I walked a little longer and a little more briskly. I did a little more cycling to build of some endurance. I watched my eating habits because I knew that, if I had a few extra pounds, I would have to take them up that hill with me!
So, maybe you are not a marathon runner - neither am I! But that doesn't mean that you can't set up some small challenges to conquer so long as those challenges are not beyond what you can safely take on without risk of illness or injury. Remember that weekend warriors get into trouble, not because they take on a challenge, but because they do so with little forethought, planning and preparation.
What are some small challenges that you could set up for yourself as we enter this fall season? There is no need to run a marathon unless you really want to! A series of small challenges will go a long way toward helping you to preserve and improve your level of fitness.
Small fitness challenges keep our fitness level on our radar screen without overwhelming us and they can also be fun.
I had fun walking up that hill and, even though I was breathing hard at the top, I felt really good to have conquered my challenge! Remember, those marathon runners had to start with some small challenges too!
Do you feel discouraged about your level of fitness? If so, don't negate the value of starting with some small challenges and remember these encouraging words, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin..." (Zecharaiah 4:10, NLT)
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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