Are you looking for a way to improve your fitness or your commitment to exercise in 2020? Go ahead and bookmark this page right now, because this post has everything you need to start your 2020 fitness goals on the right foot.

But before you take the next step forward in your fitness journey, I encourage you to take a look back over your shoulder at what worked and didn’t work for you in 2019. 

For me (Jordan – I blog for LifeApps about evolution, fasting and fitness, among other health-related topics), consistently running every week was the most sure path to feeling fit and strong throughout 2019. I made a resolution to run more consistently at the beginning on 2019, but I soon realized that my running had to be accompanied by yoga and stretching to relieve taut muscles and prevent knee pain. I also rediscovered swimming as an excellent activity to improve my breath control (which significantly improves aerobic capacity and performance for running). Not to mention that swimming is an excellent venue for mindful exercise!

So the first step to your 2020 fitness journey is to reflect back on your wins and losses in 2019, at the very least in the context of fitness (I also encourage you to expand this reflection out to other areas of your life!). Consolidate your wins, work on your losses and take a positive step forward in the new year. You can start with LifeOmic’s fitness challenge for January 2020!!

To help you get a fresh start on fitness in 2020, LifeOmic has created a 31-day fitness challenge. Expect to walk, run, swim, jump rope, rock climb, do yoga! These fitness challenges will help you diversify your exercise to keep things fresh and exciting. You can complete this challenge as a daily program this month, following the calendar outlined below. Each day provides a fresh fitness activity that will motivate you to move and help you engage more deeply with your fitness goals. 

Alternatively, you can choose your own fitness adventure, each day crossing off a new challenge (in any order you’d like!) as you complete it! You can start with some easier challenges in the first week to ease into things, or ride the wave of new year motivation and tackle some of the harder challenges first!

Stay tuned for more fitness resources, blog posts and much more this month at Stay active, eat well, sleep right and manage your stress, and you’ll be well on your way to living a happy, healthy and productive life in 2020. From the whole LifeOmic team, Happy New Year and good luck!

Need more help? You can chat with our certified fitness experts and exercise physiologists about your exercise and fitness questions by clicking the Connect icon in the lower right-hand corner of this blog post!

Ask a friend to join you in the 31 daily fitness challenges below to keep yourself accountable! Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash.

31 Daily Challenges to Get Fit in 2020

Download a visual calendar of the following challenges here.

1. (Jan 1) New Year, New Goals!

Today, take some time to decide on fitness goal(s) you want to achieve in 2020. Write down these fitness goals to calibrate your mental compass towards what you want to achieve this year.

For an extra challenge, also create and keep a fitness diary to track what exercise you do each day this year. You can make notes to yourself in this diary when you accomplish long-term goals or reach personal best fitness stats. This is the best way to track your progress and see your fitness improving this year.

Keep your list of fitness goals (and your fitness diary) somewhere where you can see it on a daily basis.  Bonus: Share your goals with a friend, to keep yourself accountable! They might even want to join you on your journey to reach your goals.

2. (Jan 2) Walk a (extra) Mile Today.

Brisk walking is a low-impact aerobic exercise. Consistent brisk walking – especially if you walk quickly enough to make yourself breathe heavily – strengthens your heart muscle and improves the capacity of your heart to pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. Your lungs adapt to this exercise by increasing their capacity to extract oxygen from the air your breathe and saturate your red blood cells with oxygen. Your skeletal muscle adapts to this exercise by improving its ability to use oxygen to do muscular work.

Ultimately, pushing yourself to walk briskly more often can improve your body’s ability to put oxygen to work, which improves your health and longevity.

3. (Jan 3) Track Your Progress.

Create a spreadsheet or start a diary to track your exercise stats this month! You can also track all of your daily exercise in LifeOmic’s LIFE Extend app.

4. (Jan 4) Measure your Resting Heart Rate.

Today, measure your resting heart rate, or how quickly your heart beats at rest.

To measure your resting heart rate (RHR), sit down and get comfortable for five minutes. Make sure you haven’t had any stimulants such as caffeine recently. Count the number of times your heart beats in a minute. The normal RHR range is 60-100 beats per minute (BPM), but 60-80 BPM is considered optimal. A resting heart rate of 55-60 for men and 60-65 for women is considered excellent, while heart rates above 75 for men and above 78 for women would be considered below average to poor, warranting a wellness check and a more regular fitness routine.

Track your resting heart rate this month, to see how it improves (lowers) as you complete our fitness challenges!

5. (Jan 5) Walk + Breathe.

Go for a mindful walk out in nature today. 

Choose one thing to focus on in your environment during your walk, and see how long you can focus on that thing during your walk. Can you notice the wind? Your breathe? The colors you can see? 

6. (Jan 6) Swim!

Today, dive into a pool for a swim… or if you’re extra brave, take a ‘free range’ swim at a lake, in a river or at the beach.

7. (Jan 7) Step it up!

Find a challenging set of stairs in your neighborhood and see how many times you can walk or run up them.

Check how much your heart rate recovers within one and two minutes following vigorous exercise.
Check how much your heart rate recovers within one and two minutes following vigorous exercise.

8. (Jan 8) Measure Your Heart Rate Recovery.

Today, measure your heart rate recovery (HRR) after intense exercise. Your HRR is a measure of the time it takes for your heart rate to recover after high intensity exercise. It measures the efficiency of your cardiovascular system.

To calculate this measure of fitness, start exercising and maintain your heart rate zone at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age) for 10 minutes. You can use a FitBit or other similar device to make sure you hit and maintain your target heart rate zone. 

Stop and note your heart rate at this point. Start a stopwatch timer and wait for two minutes. After two minutes, measure your “recovered” heart rate. Use the difference between your exercise heart rate and your “recovered” heart rate to assess your level of fitness.

If your heart rate recovers by 50 beats or more in two minutes (for example, from 148 beats per minute to 98 beats per minute), you are very fit on this scale of cardiovascular fitness. If your heart rate only recovers by 30 beats or fewer in two minutes, you might want to see a health care professional and start a more serious exercise regimen.

9. (Jan 9 ) Time Your Run!

Time a 1-mile run (or brisk walk) today. Map out the distance of a 1-mile running loop and do a time-trial. If you have to walk some of that run, that’s ok! Try to improve your time this month.

Join a yoga class at your local yoga studio, or try at at-home practice by following along with a Yoga video on YouTube or Alo Moves. Photo by Anupam Mahapatra on Unsplash.

10. (Jan 10) Yoga!

Follow along a Yoga video on YouTube. Get started here.

11. (Jan 10) Jump!

Try some plyometrics or a jumping workout today. Try a jump rope workout – See how many tricks you can do! 

12. (Jan 12) Pump Some Iron.

Lifting weights doesn’t just build your muscle strength – it also strengthens your bones and helps your body to better fight off stress. 

Need help getting started? Consider attending a weightlifting class or getting help from a personal trainer or exercise physiologist to learn how to lift heavy weights safely. Check out this ACE beginner’s guide to weightlifting.

13. (Jan 13) Run + Breathe.

Go for a mindful run, focusing on your form and your breathing pattern. If your mind wanders to worries, plans for the future or even pain in your body while you are running, gently bring it back to focus on the feeling of your feet on the ground, the movement of your arms and chest, or your breath. People often find that a mindful awareness of their breath, or of their form of the environment around them, helps them to relax, to run longer and with less pain.

14. (Jan 14) Climb!

Go rock climbing or bouldering today (indoor or outdoor). Most cities have one or more rock climbing or bouldering gyms that typically have daily hours where you can walk in and try this fun sport out! All rock climbing gyms have options for beginners, and even if you fall or don’t make it to the top of the wall, you are still getting a workout! 

15. (Jan 15) Stretch it out.

What are the benefits of stretching? Beside obvious improvements in muscle and joint flexibility, stretching can be used a powerful exercise to preserve and restore the balance between the cardiovascular and nervous systems. In two independent studies, researchers were able to demonstrate that a full body stretching routine could improve heart rate variability in young men and healthy athletes.

Other reports have shown improved glucose control in those with type 2 diabetes after a formal stretching program. Bringing a muscle to its full range of motion signals neural and biochemical responses to facilitate relaxation and promote blood flow. And you can attain the range of motion benefits of stretching quickly!

16. (Jan 16) Work Those Abdominals.

You don’t have to do crunches or even a dedicated ab workout to strengthen your belly. Tense your abs for intervals of 20 seconds at least 6 times today. Try to tense your abs while also sucking in your belly (as if you were trying to get your bellybutton to touch your spine). This will help strengthen the stabilizing muscles in your core, which help prevent back pain and other health issues.

Practicing a yoga tree pose can improve your balance and ankle and leg strength.

17. (Jan 17) Balance Challenge.

Do the yoga tree position (standing on one leg) for a target of 3 minutes today! To to do it while brushing your teeth.

18. (Jan 18) Get Outdoors.

Spend 20 minutes exercising outside today – go for a walk or a run, or lift some weights outside!

19. (Jan 19) Plank Challenge.

Today, test how long you can stay in a standard plank pose OR in a hollow-body Yoga “boat” pose.

This bodyweight exercise doesn’t require any equipment, and is great for upper body and core strength! 

Plank pose. You can practice plank in a push-up position (with hands on the floor) or with elbows on the floor. Try elbows on the floor if you have wrist issues. Keep your tailbone tucked under and your belly lifted toward your spine.

20. (Jan 20) Push-up Challenge.

Do as many push-ups as you can in one sitting. If you need, modify your pushups by having your knees on the ground.

An interesting report from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that being able to do more than 40 push-ups was associated with improved cardiovascular health outcomes (Yang et al. 2019). This study was conducted in 1562 firefighters between the years of 2000 and 20007. The study investigators noted improved blood pressure, total cholesterol and glucose levels in those able to complete over 40 push-ups. Push-ups are an equipment-free and simple exercise to do. Doing push-ups may another way to improve your cardiovascular health without buying a pair of running shoes.

21. (Jan 21) Sprint it Out.

Do an “all out” sprint today. 

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a time-efficient strategy to improve performance and health. The essence of HIIT is shorter, more intense periods of exercise interspersed with periods of rest. However, even a single “sprint” or all-out effort has been shown to be effective at turning on the molecular signaling proteins involved in the benefits of longer term exercise. Remarkably, a single sprint increased fasted fat oxidation by 38% and improved the insulin sensitivity index by 46% (Groussard et al. 2003; Guerra et al. 2010; Whyte et al. 2013; Yang et al. 2019).

22. (Jan 22) Yin, Zen.

Take a rest day today from physical activity today, but accelerate your recovering by practicing some Yin yoga. Yin yoga promotes muscle recovery through stretching, and also helps you get mindful and beat stress. Get started here.

23. (Jan 23) Every-30-Minute Movement Challenge.

Challenge yourself to move throughout the day today – do some movement every 30 minutes! If work at a desk, stand up and talk a short walk every 30 minutes.

24. (Jan 24) Exercise with Friends.

Take a group exercise class today, or plan to workout with friends. You could take a cycling, pilates or yoga class, or plan a Crossfit or other HIIT workout with friends at your local gym.

There are unique benefits to exercising with a group as opposed to solitary exercise. While much of it has to do with personality and personal preference, research has demonstrated that there are motivational and adherence benefits to exercising with other people. Those individuals who struggle to adhere to an exercise program will potentially benefit from the camaraderie and social aspects of exercising in a group format.

25. (Jan 25) Carry That Weight.

Try a workout carrying some extra weight – a rucksack workout! Workout with a loaded backpack on your back.

Rucking refers to walking or other activities with a weighted backpack. Originating from military training, rucking ramps up the demand for any given walking speed. This leads to increased heart rate and energy expenditure (calories burned). Rucking can be slowly intensified by adding more weight to your rucksack. Much of the benefits of exercise are tied to the amount of calories burned throughout the week.

Rucking is great for those who do not enjoy running but would like to burn more calories. Rucking is a way to engage in an active resistance and aerobic exercise.

26. (Jan 26) Choose Your Own Challenge.

What fitness daily challenge have you enjoyed most this month? Repeat that daily challenge today!

27. (Jan 27) Try a Kettlebell Complex Workout.

Kettlebell exercises are excellent training tools to increase strength and power. A kettlebell complex will also challenge the cardiovascular system because of the transition between exercises in the complex. (A complex is a series of exercises logically strung together, usually designed to be a whole-body workout.)

Since the emergence of kettlebells as a popular training tool, much research has been conducted to understand the benefits of kettlebell training. The oxygen cost (calories burned) and heart rate was shown to get up to 88% of heart rate max when kettlebell swings were performed continuously. By cycling kettlebell exercise between upper body, core and lower body movements, a kettlebell complex can be a time efficient way to improve strength and power while getting a great cardiovascular workout. 

Checkout ACE Fitness’s kettlebell complex training resources, such as this conditioning workout.

Woman lifting a kettlebell. Photo by Sergio Pedemonte on Unsplash.

28 & 29. (Jan 28-29) HIIT It.

Plan and complete your own HIIT workout for the next two days! You could plan and test your workout today, and complete the whole thing tomorrow.

The benefits of HIIT are numerous and extremely well documented. From improved cardiovascular and metabolic health to improvements in cognitive function, HIIT is a time efficient and effective strategy to improve health and fitness. 

Planning out your own HIIT routine requires an understanding of your current fitness level and the tools you want to use to build your program. For beginners, doing a 1:2 work to rest ratio is a safe and simple way to start. Doing 10 seconds of high intensity effort followed by 20 seconds of rest will allow adequate time to recover and push for the next work period. Slowly increasing the work time or altering the work to rest ratio (1:1 or 2:1) is a good way to track your fitness and plan new HIIT workouts.

Check out these HIIT exercises from ACE Fitness. You can build any exercises you like into your HIIT workout – try jumps, push-ups (you can modify them by having your knees on the floor), one-leg balances, squats, front and side planks, etc.

If typical HIIT exercises make you nervous, you can create a dead simple HIIT working by planning a walk where every 5 minutes you do 2 minutes of running quickly, high-knee running, skipping, doing lunges or something else that makes you breathe more heavily!

30. (Jan 30) Get Winded.

Get at least 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity for your heart today.

How will you know if your activity is vigorous? You’ll only be able to say a few words before having to take a breath. Go for a jog, ride a bike in hilly terrain, do some stair stepping or sign up for a power yoga class today.

31. (Jan 31) You Made It.

Celebrate your accomplishment today! But also take some time to think about how the month went. Did you complete every challenge? What challenges were the most difficult for you? Develop another monthly challenge for yourself, focusing on the challenges above that you may not have completed this month or that were difficult for you.

If you found this fitness challenge motivating, redo it again in February and share it with a friend! Add or modify any challenges as you like to match your fitness goals.

The above is not medical advice. Prior to participating in any wellness challenge, you are encouraged to consult a qualified health professional.