In the next few weeks, the WellMASS Take 10! Exercise Challenge will be rolled out at agencies across the state. The Challenge is designed to encourage you to add 10-minute bursts of activity into your daily routine, with the goal of turning short-term improvements into long-term behavior and lifestyle changes. Take 10! focuses on four different types of activities that can be completed in 10-minute spurts, but its core philosophy of starting small and gradually increasing your activity levels can really be adapted to any type of exercise.
At the beginning of this month, I embarked on a 30-day Plank Challenge that my sister encouraged me to try. Planking, for those of you who, like me at the start of the challenge, have never tried it before, involves holding a push-up position, with your elbows and forearms on the floor, for an extended period of time. The instructions for the Plank Challenge I’m following are simple: Gradually increase the amount of time you plank each day, working all the way up to a 5-minute plank on day 30. I’m currently up to a 2- minute plank, and it actually hasn’t been that difficult to get to this point, since I’ve built up my “tolerance” for planking slowly and consistently. If you’d like to try the 30-Day Plank Challenge yourself, here’s how you can do it:
Days 1 & 2 – 20 seconds Days 3 & 4 – 30 seconds
Day 5 – 40 seconds Day 6 – rest
Days 7 & 8 – 45 seconds Days 9, 10, & 11 – 1 minute
Day 12 – 1.5 minutes Day 13 – rest
Days 14 & 15 – 1.5 minutes Days 16 & 17 – 2 minutes
Day 18– 2.5 minutes Day 19 – rest
Days 20 & 21 – 2.5 minutes Days 22 & 23– 3 minutes
Days 24 & 25 – 3.5 minutes Day 26 – rest
Days 27 & 28 – 4 minutes Day 29 – 4.5 minutes
Day 30 – 5 minutes
If planking isn’t your thing, try this type of challenge with another form of exercise, like doing sit-ups or lifting weights. You can work your way up to a longer duration or more repetitions of an exercise – the point is to slowly increase your endurance and physical fitness so that it doesn’t seem like you’re putting a lot of effort in at all. If you start slowly, you’re more likely to stick with an exercise program. But as with any exercise program, always talk with your doctor if you have any concerns before starting a new workout routine.