A new year brings new resolutions that most people typically abandon after a couple of months. One of the least respected new year’s goals is getting fit. It’s hard to find the time and energy to exercise when we have other pressing responsibilities, but nothing is more important than your own health and well-being. 

Exercise prevents heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US in 2019. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 650k people died of heart-related diseases in the USA last year. Regular physical activity helps to reduce blood pressure, stress, and inflammation. Plus, exercise, together with a balanced diet, is a key factor in weight loss and preventing the onset of diabetes. Exercise also has some surprising effects: When our muscles get contracted while working out, our body starts producing myokines small molecules that get poured into the bloodstream. These molecules boost learning and memory and improve the function of the cells that make insulin (β cells). Even if you have physical impairments, exercise can improve your mobility and physical health, and it can extend your life even if you suffer from multiple chronic illnesses. We bring you 31 challenges you can practice throughout the year to incorporate exercise into your life. The challenges below include alternatives, so even if your mobility is limited you can do them! 

Learn more about fitness here.

Are you ready for these January challenges to boost your health? Yeah, I’m talking to YOU, I can see you hiding behind your screen and rolling your eyes to the sky.  You won’t be alone in this challenge! We will help you spice up your workout routine during the whole month of January to boost your motivation and help you accomplish your fitness goals! 

A few tips to complete these challenges:

  1. Get your fitness gear the night before. If you work out at home, place it where it will be easy to grab, or take it with you before you go to work if you’re working from the office.
  2. Schedule exercise like you schedule the rest of your day. If you plan for it, you will be more likely to actually do it.
  3. keep track of every workout. Here are some printable and customizable worksheets to help you keep track of your daily exercise to keep your motivation high. 

You can also download a visual calendar of the challenges here.

Let’s begin!

Find workouts online that you think you could enjoy.

Day 1- Get a workout playlist ready

The best workout is the one you will actually do! Find workouts online that you think you could enjoy. Create a YouTube playlist to group all the workouts you want to try or try specific apps like Runtastic, Asana rebel, Daily workouts, etc. Daily Burn and BeachBody on demand offer a great variety of workouts, plus a free trial to get started. Create a music or podcast playlist to help you stay in the mood.

Day 2- Track your progress: Measure your body!

Measure your body: Chest, biceps, hips, waist, and thighs. These numbers will tell you what the scale can’t. Your body will be changing, and this will give you motivation to keep going. If you feel comfortable, you can also take a photo of yourself in your underwear today and then again on January 31st. Hit play on your YouTube list and end with some stretching to cool down. 

Day 3- Enjoy a brisk walk outside

Enjoy a brisk walk or jog outside and remember to stretch before and after. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking is one of the most natural forms of exerciseIt’s safe, simple, and you don’t need any equipment. If it’s too cold where you live, go to the nearest mall and take several laps inside. If you have limited mobility, do some seated rows with a chair and a resistance band!

Day 4- Time for some lunges!

It’s time to sweat! This 10-minute lunge workout is waiting for you and will help you get firm buttocks and toned legs. Front and back lunges target the gluteus maximus (your butt!), hamstrings, quadriceps and calves while lateral lunges target the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, quadriceps, hamstrings and inner thighs. In case you feel particularly fit, add some weight! Grab some dumbbells or use a couple of bottles of water. If you have limited mobility, try this seated workout to strengthen your legs!

Day 5- Give running a try

Start running! Run for 15 minutes today. Not a running person? Do 30 minutes of brisk walking, or try a combination of both activities, running for 30 seconds and walking for 60, repeating several times until you get to 15 minutes.  This way you will be exercising at your near-maximal intensity for a short period. If you’d rather not run or walk, try these seated knee lifts you can easily do during a work break!

Make frequent active pauses during your work day.

Day 6- Take active breaks at work today

If you work from a desk, step away every hour. Perform some mild workday stretching, including some squats, a short walk, or a stretch. Low impact non-sweaty activities do not require clothing changes. Even this type of light-intensity physical activity lowers the risk of mortality in those who suffer from heart disease.

Day 7- Time to get your heart rate up with some cardio!

Try these 15 cardio moves today. Cardio workouts have many advantages: they can be done at home or outside and they don’t require a gym. All you need is you! If you have limited mobility, you can still get your heart rate up with this 10-minute chair workout.

Day 8- Try a fasted workout!

Try this yoga workout today before you have your first meal. Fasted workouts help you get your blood sugar levels under control, burn more fat, and make your body more responsive to insulin. Plus, according to  Harvard and UCLA, yoga increases muscle strength, flexibility, and body awareness, leading to psychological benefits, such as self-acceptance and a positive mood. If you have physical limitations, this yoga workout is for you!

Day 9- Go for a hike or do some burpees!

It’s Saturday and outdoor hiking is mandatory! Walk, breathe some fresh air, bring your lunch with you and spend the whole day outside. In case you don’t live in Cali and you can spot 6+ inches of snow outside your window, here is an alternative: Burpees! You can choose between low-impact and high-impact ones. Alternatively, try this seated upper body workout.

Day 10– Dance!

Dancing helps you let go of stress and allows you to have fun while burning some calories. Put on some comfy clothes, feel the music and move! Involve your partner/sister/brother in your dance and stay fit all together. Don’t forget to warm-up and drink plenty of water before, during and after.

Day 11-Try an active commute

If you usually drive to work, how about biking or walking there instead? Many people overestimate the actual time it would take them to actively commute to work, so if you think you don’t have time you might be lying to yourself. If you take public transportation, get off 2 or 3 stops before and cover the rest of the route on foot. If it’s too cold and you prefer driving, park further away than you usually would and take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you work from home, go back to your YouTube workouts and hit play!

Day 12- Run or try brisk walking

Run for 20 minutes or do 40 minutes of brisk walking. Another option is a combination of both activities, running for 30 seconds and walking for 60, repeating until reaching 20 minutes. This way you will be exercising at your near-maximal intensity for a short period. Alternatively, try this seated ab workout!

Seated workouts can be fun too! Better if you can do them with friends, either in person or virtually.

Day 13- work out with your friend or partner

There are unique benefits to exercising with friends. 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 working out with others. If you feel unable to stay motivated all by yourself, involve a friend in your daily challenges. Gather your friends for a virtual group workout today! Alternatively,  join a virtual group to find willpower in other people. On Facebook, for example, there is a group for almost everything! It’s up to you to find the one that best fits your needs.

Day 14- Incorporate dumbbells in your workout today

Use dumbbells to train your whole body. If you don’t have dumbbells, use water bottles full please! Make those arms work but remember these tips: maintain proper posture and stop if your back or shoulders start hurting. If your mobility is limited try this seated dumbbell workout.

Day 15- You’re half-way done! Celebrate with these balance exercises

Celebrate! Have you been more physically active? Do you feel better? Did you lose some pounds? If you can answer “yes” to, at least, one question, then it’s time to celebrate your commitment. Of course, celebration doesn’t mean there will be no workout today. Indeed, balance exercises are waiting for you. These are good at any age! They will help you gain stability, coordination and ease of movement. You can also do balance exercises while seated! Check out this workout.

Day 16- Work those abs!

Celebrations must end: it’s time for abdominals. An Abs killer workout is waiting for you… If you are already familiar with different options and positions you can follow this guide that only contains photos, otherwise, a killer abs video practice will start in a click! Alternatively, you can try this seated ab workout. According to Harvard Medical school working on your abs will improve the strength of your core muscles; these are a group of muscles located across the whole length of the thorax which include, among others, abs, obliques and diaphragm muscles which are fundamental in the connection between upper and lower parts of the body. Strengthening your core muscles will improve coordination, balance, power, flexibility and reaction time. 

Day 17- Try meditation!

Between abs yesterday and (spoiler!) planks tomorrow, it’s time to try one of the guided meditations in the LIFE Extend app today. A hectic life, overwhelming duties and crazy routines surely don’t help keeping us away from stress. Last year’s circumstances brought a certain load of additional challenges, so it’s time to reconnect with your needs and listen to your body through meditation. The basic approach to start meditating: a) sit comfortably b) focus on your breath, paying attention while inhaling and exhaling, and c) follow the rhythm of your breath for several minutes. When you notice your mind has wandered, bring your attention back to your breath. This activity will help reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus and cognition and improve mood and heart health over time.

Day 18- How long can you hold a plank?

Time yourself and see how many minutes (or seconds!) you are able to plank. Here, you will find step-by-step instructions to approach planking and some tips to avoid incorrect postures and injuries. Alternatively, try this 20-minute seated workout.

Day 19- Run or walk briskly today

Run for 25 minutes or do 50 minutes of brisk walking. Alternatively, you can try a combination of both activities, running for 30 seconds and walking for 60, repeating  several times until reaching 25 minutes.  This way you will be exercising at your near-maximal intensity for a short period. Alternatively, try this 25-minute chair workout.

Day 20- Try some push-ups today

Do your best to do as many as you can. In case the standard ones are too heavy for you, support yourself on your knees to lighten the load on your arms. Alternatively, try this 30-min low-impact workout.

Day 21- Use dumbbells and a jump rope today!

Go to an equipped park and follow the fitness trail or set up a fitness trail in your backyard or living room with steps, dumbbells and ropes. Do 20 minutes of going up and down some stairs, jumping rope, and a few of these dumbbell exercises. Alternatively, try this 30-minute seated workout.

Day 22- Squat!

Keep your toes parallel, tense your abs, and look straight ahead and stand tall. Mix 20 seconds of squat with a 10-second recovery and repeat 10 times (total workout time = 5 minutes).

Day 23- Active rest- day!

Look how far you’ve come! Today is made for rest but you can engage in some light exercise like stretching, yoga, or walking. 

Day 24- Bike or run up the stairs

Grab your bike and go out for a ride or use that stationary bicycle you abandoned in your basement 10 years ago and PEDAL! Here are two playlists for you for both outdoor and indoor training. Alternatively,  find a challenging set of stairs in your neighborhood and see how many times you can walk or run up them.  For safety, keep your hands by the handrail, make sure your shoelaces are tied, and avoid running down the stairs. If your mobility is limited, try this fun seated workout.

Day 25- Ditch the elevator— take the stairs!

It’s time to avoid elevators for the rest of the week and take stairs only! Of course, if your office is located on the 86th floor, elevators are allowed, but the last three floors must be covered by foot. Don’t be smart: uphill, not downhill! Alternatively, try these seated stretches!

Day 26- Run or walk briskly today

Run for 30 minutes or walk briskly for 60 minutes. Alternatively, you can try a combination of both activities, running for 30 seconds and walking for 60, repeating several times until reaching 30 minutes. This way you will be exercising at your near-maximal intensity for a short period. You did it! Once-a-week running/brisk walking challenge: accomplished! Alternatively, try this 10-minute seated cardio workout!

Jump rope drills can add variety and an extra challenge to any workout!

Day 27- Jump rope!

Buy or dig up the jumping rope and bring out your inner Rocky. It seems easy to just jump; believe me, it’s not! The Jump rope dudes will explain how to properly approach this discipline and get the most out of it, with tips and videos. However, if you just want to keep it casual, try these jump rope drills. Alternatively, try this seated total-body workout.

Day 28- Exercise outside!

Do you crave a special meal and are tempted to get a food delivery? Don’t! Go get your food by bike or on foot. Once you get home, it will be so much more rewarding eating that meal. Alternatively, spend 20 minutes exercising outside today, or try this fun, seated upper body workout.

Day 29- Try jumping jacks!

Go back to high school gym hour with jumping jacks! Start with 1-minute repetitions until you can’t take it anymore. Alternatively, try this 30-minute seated workout

Day 30- Grab the hula-hoop!

Borrow the hula-hoop from your daughter/friend/roommate and work on your waistline.  If you don’t have a hula-hoop, try some hip raises! You can train abs, glutes and hamstrings at the same time and there is no need for equipment. If you want to add difficulty, try straightening one leg and then the other. Not so comfortable, right? Do 3 sets of 15 reps. 

Day 31- You made it!

You did it! After a whole month of exercising, it’s time to stretch and get some rest. Hopefully you proved to yourself that you can commit to at least a few minutes of daily physical activity. Pick the workout or exercise combinations you loved the most and stay active the rest of the year! If you followed along with all or most of these challenges, send us an email at learn@lifeomic.com and tell us how it went and how it helped you— We’d love to hear from you!

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