Do you approach challenges as something good, as a game, or as something to be avoided? Barny Stinson, a character in the TV series How I Met Your Mother loved challenges and was often heard saying “challenge accepted” as he took on some crazy challenge. That line always made me laugh. I seem to enjoy challenges, too.
Recently, I had my concept of “challenge” expanded. Your body benefits from being challenged — even if you don’t enjoy the process initially.
The body improves through challenges. You challenge your muscles by stressing them when you push just beyond their limit. The result is growth and strength. You stress your bones with various exercises so they grow stronger, too.
Hormesis is the technical term that describes favorable biological responses to low-exposure stressors — or getting uncomfortable. The result of that is you bounce back stronger and you elevate your body’s performance and getting unstuck from your comfort zone.
Physically, your can push your body in extremes of temperature, hunger, breath, and exercise. Pushing your limits makes you become less fragile and often strengthens your immune system.
– Expose your body to uncomfortably hot and cold temperatures.
– Vary the fasting time between meals.
– Hold your breath for as long as you can, and then do it for longer.
– Push the speed or length of time to stress your body when you are exercising.
– Jump onto and off of benches or curbs to give yourself a different kind of workout, if it’s safe to do so.
– Carry heavy things.
How long has it been since you’ve done a jumping jack? The idea here is to get unstuck from the rut of chronic repetitive activities. Vary your workouts and your life.
Many of these low-exposure stressors also elevate your brain, not just your body. Now there is a brain twister! Introducing disorder, turmoil, and variety to your body and life can actually be good for you. The idea of improving my brain through changing my routine was a fascinating concept. Get “unfragile”?!
Who’s going to say “challenge accepted” with me and get uncomfortable with small amounts of natural disorder and stress?