Want to work on your health straightaway in the new year?
A 31-day health challenge is a perfect solution to do just that. Below, we share options to tackle your health in easy ways that will make a difference in how you feel daily.
Each day will offer a mini-challenge like:
- Skipping salt
- Getting outside
- Drinking only water
Health challenges don’t need to be complicated, especially when you’re feeling exhausted from the holidays. Here’s your simple-to-follow 31-day health challenge:
Day 1: Try a New Healthy Food
Do you usually opt for the same meals and foods day in and day out? Shake things up today! Research shows if you’re not open to trying new ingredients, you could be missing out on a variety of nutrients important to good health. Whether you opt for a sweet potato over a regular potato, fresh kale over veggie chips, or chickpea pasta over wheat pasta, today is the day for trying new food!
Day 2: Get Outside
Make it your mission to get outside today to reap the benefits of the great outdoors. Not only will you find your mood increases, but your energy just might too! Time outdoors has been shown to boost vitamin D levels thanks to the way our skin absorbs it from the sun. It’s also linked to higher levels of concentration, so if you’re in a restless rut, outdoor time could be what you need.
Related: The Biggest Benefits of Natural Light May Surprise You
Day 3: Eat Three Green Foods
When was the last time you ate three green foods in one day? Has it been a while since you last did that? What about a combination of three green foods in one dish? Make it your mission today to eat green however you can get it: Put it in a salad, a shake, a stir-fry, or a sandwich. From lettuce to kale and broccoli to green beans and everything in between, the options are limitless. Green veggies — especially leafy ones — offer everything from folate, iron, calcium, and vitamin C, which are all necessary for optimum health.
Day 4: Drink Only Water
Water is a must to stay healthy. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it also is responsible for flushing toxins out of your body, too. Try going 30 days where you only drink water for your beverage. It’s calorie-free and sugar-free.
Day 5: Skip the Salt
Love salty foods? As part of your personal 30-day health challenge, you may consider pumping the brakes on your salt intake. Too much salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure and may also increase your risk of stroke or a heart attack. Aim for less than five grams daily if you want to reduce your blood pressure.
Day 6: Unplug
There’s no denying it: Many of us are connected to our cell phones more than we may like to admit. In fact, on average, Americans check their phones a whopping 352 times per day! What would it be like for you to unplug? Try it for a few hours at a time and then eventually graduate to a full day without your phone or electronics. Those who are willing to break away from screens may find they get better sleep, develop better connections, and even find they’re more productive.
Day 7: Take the stairs
It only takes 10 minutes of climbing stairs to burn 100 calories. It doesn’t need to be done all at once, either. You can break it up and it still counts toward that 100 calories you want to burn. Climbing stairs is also excellent for your cardiovascular health, too, as an added bonus of hitting the stairs!
Day 8: Eat More Fresh Fruit
Fruits are one of those foods that ideally should be consumed daily due to the nutrients they contain. Fresh fruits in particular are known to reduce some types of cancer and even lower eye and digestive issues, according to Harvard’s School of Public Health. Today, for each meal, cover half of your plate with fruits (and veggies).
Day 9: Cook at Home
Normally eat out? Today, make at least one of your meals at home. When you make your meals in your own kitchen, you can control what goes in them, like salt. Check for all ingredients in your home and pick up any you don’t have on hand (and shop when you’re not hungry to reduce overspending!) to ensure you can eat a well-balanced meal.
Day 10: Spend a Day on Self-Care
When was the last time you spent time focusing on yourself? During the holiday season, it can be hard to slow down. Consider today an excuse to do something you love or find relaxing. Whether it’s reading a favorite book, taking yourself on a lunch break to your favorite local restaurant, or another activity, take some “me” time!
Day 11: Take a 30-Minute Walk
Aim to get your steps in today with at least one 30-minute walk. Walking is a great exercise for anyone of any age. It’s known to increase muscle endurance, increase bone strength, and can help with maintaining or losing weight. Get your arms pumping and legs really moving to increase the cardiovascular benefits.
Day 12: Walk 10,000 Steps
If your 30-minute walk inspired you, then keep the walking benefits going. If you have a fitness tracker, keep an eye on your steps today. Make it a goal to hit a minimum of 10,000 steps. This may be harder than you think, especially if you have a desk job! Walk to the water fountain; head over to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing them; take the stairs — every step counts!
Day 13: Get to Bed Early
Sleep deprivation over the long haul can be detrimental to your health. Tonight, aim to skip binge watching shows or staying up late. When you get a full good night’s sleep, you increase your immunity strength and you’ll feel more productive the next day. Here’s to catching a little more shut-eye tonight with a full eight hours!
Day 14: Stretch
Sitting too much? Tight muscles and aches can be attributed to too much time sitting. Make it a goal today to stretch first thing in the morning and any time you’ve been sitting for a lengthy amount of time. A few yoga poses before bed can help loosen up your muscles and contribute to a good night’s sleep, too.
Day 15: Watch an Inspirational Video
Inspirational and motivational speeches and videos can easily turn your mood around. Viewing inspirational content can also boost your hopes and increase your productivity. Check out YouTube for a ton of videos that can offer you a pep talk and improve your mood instantly.
Day 16: Download a Fitness App to Try
If your workout routine is getting stale, it’s time to try something new. There are a ton of fitness resources out there — free and paid — to get you moving. Download one today and give it a try to shake up your fitness routine.
Day 17: Try a New Fitness Class
Have you been wanting to try a new class at your gym? Go for it today! Check out your gym’s calendar and pick a new class you’ve never done before. It will challenge your mind and your muscles.
Day 18: Eat an Entire Meal of Veggies
If you normally turn your nose up at salads, think of another wait you can get your veggies in. Make a tofu scramble loaded with veggies or grill up a bunch of fresh vegetables and make a meal of it for a fiber boost that will keep you feeling full.
Day 19: Stroll Around Your Local Park
Live near a park? Go take advantage of it before or after work today! You may even come across some organized sports or events that you want to take part in through the local parks and recreation department. Bring a friend for the added benefit of a stroll and social activity.
Day 20: Go Meatless
Just for one day, go without meat. You can do it. Research indicates even one day of meatless meals can lower your risk for conditions like heart disease or cancer. You’re also more likely to eat less fat and fewer calories if you decide to opt for a more regular plant-based diet, according to Mayo Clinic.
Day 21: Explore a Relaxing Evening Routine
Have you ever tried to go to sleep while your mind is racing? It can be nearly impossible. Given that most adults need an average of eight hours of sleep per night, make it a goal to get into bed to hit that goal nightly. For example, a bedtime routine of reading a book and drinking warm (caffeine free!) tea can help you calm your mind and fall asleep faster.
Day 22: Try a Farm-to-Table Restaurant
One of the best perks of exploring a local farm-to-table restaurant is that you know exactly what you’re getting on the menu. Plus, it’s usually in-season food that’s picked right when produce is nutrient-rich. Google farm-to-table restaurants in your area to learn where you can dine today for a unique meal!
Day 23: Do 10 Squats
Want a better backside? Squats are the best way to lift your glutes and look better in your jeans. Plus, you’ll definitely feel stronger if you add this to your daily routine. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with your hips driven back before you squat down. Do 10 squats and see how you feel. Go for 20 squats if you can keep your form strong.
Day 24: Offer Gratitude
Practicing gratitude is a great way to take pause and reflect on all the good in your life. An active gratitude practice can also help you feel more content. Today, write down three things you’re grateful for in your life.
Day 25: Set Aside 5 Minutes for Deep Breathing
If you’re feeling a little tense or just need a moment to reset, five minutes of deep breathing may be what you need. Deep breathing can help you focus on the moment and get into a present state instead of worrying or stressing about what’s ahead. Set a timer and take a deep breath in. Repeat for up to five minutes for the ultimate stress reliever.
Day 26: Do a Happy Dance
Dancing is a natural mood booster. It’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, too. Whether you blast your favorite tunes and have a family dance party or stick your headphones in and dance with your office door closed, your mood will instantly elevate. Dance on!
Day 27: Take a Mental Health Day
Feeling burned out from the holidays? Many people feel run-down after hosting family, attending parties, and dealing with the general overwhelm that happens in December. If you’re feeling mentally sluggish, bored, or even restless, consider taking a mental health day for yourself.
Related: 5 Telltale Signs You Need to Take a Mental Health Day From Work
Day 28: Try a New Recipe
Tired of the same old boring recipes? Change it up and find a recipe on a site like Pinterest or Cooking Light and give it a try tonight. Aim for a meal that’s full of veggies or fruits and a solid, lean protein like chicken or turkey. You’ll get a thrill from cooking a meal yourself and exploring new flavors.
Day 29: Declutter Social Media
Sometimes it’s best to remove old, dramatic relationships or friendships from social media. If it’s been a while since you did your last sweep to delete groups, pages, and people you aren’t connecting with anymore, do it today! You’ll feel mentally lighter.
Day 30: Skip All Processed Foods
If it comes in a package, skip it. That means chips, crackers, donuts, candy, frozen meals, and the like. It’s only one day. Instead, opt for whole foods and see how you feel. That can include anything from grilled chicken atop salad to grilled veggies on brown rice or sweet potato topped with beans. Here’s to eating a variety of colors!
Day 31: Workout With a Personal Trainer
If you’re lacking the motivation to get moving in 2023, consider hiring a personal trainer. A fitness personal trainer can offer direction and may hold you accountable a bit more than friends do. Sometimes it only takes one session to realize you’ve been using equipment ineffectively. Try it out once and go from there to plan more!
Here’s to a Healthy New Year and New You!
That’s a wrap!
There are so many different ways to tackle the new year — why not start off with a healthy mindset and a daily healthy activity? Challenging yourself will push you beyond your comfort zone and also give you something to look forward to as well.
Nervous about staying motivated enough to complete the full 31 days on your own? Bring a friend in on the action to keep one another accountable.
Just remember, it’s only 31 days. If you hate it, you never have to do it again. But, if you love it, or fall in love with one of the activities, you get to do it again and again — all because you committed to a 30-day health challenge!
What health challenge activities do you most look forward to tackling in 2023? Share your thoughts in the comments below!