I have worked with clients of all types. Division one athletes, stay at home moms, marathon trainees, grandmas who want to get out of a chair independently and more. I have earned my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, became certified as a Personal Trainer and then as a Certified lifestyle and weight loss consultant. I have 15 years of experience with varying people. In all my learning and education, I started to notice a common thread. The people who included adventure into their fitness routine were happier and achieved better results. I started pushing adventure with all my clients and even developed an online program for people who couldn’t work with me locally. And guess what, those new adventurers hit their goals. But the thing that they bragged about the most was their new-found confidence, skills, and abilities. By challenging themselves physically and emotionally in these adventures, they were finding parts of themselves they always dreamed of having. It went beyond the physical. Overtime these adventures dug deep into their souls and pulled out new lives for themselves.
First let’s talk about how physical activity can improve your life. You know that jogging and other aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and increases its efficiency. You know that lifting weights builds muscle and you know that any physical motion burns calories so you can lose fat. So, I do not need to go into the physical benefits. Today I want to stress the mental and emotional side of fitness adventures.
It is scientifically proven that exercise increases your happy hormones i.e.; dopamine, catecholamines, testosterone and Brain Derived Neurotrophic factor. These hormones increase mood, self-confidence, and cognitive function. So, what I am saying is that when you exercise and move your body on a regular basis you can reduce depression, anxiety, shyness and even confusion.
Last week I was talking to Dr. Alina Fong who is the director of Cognitive FX in Provo Utah which treats severe concussions. She had many treatments to assist the brain reconnect synapses and to help their patients improve their cognitive function. Guess what they include as a part of their clients ongoing therapy? Exercise and Nutrition! That last hormone I mentioned is to thank for that. Brain derived neurotrophic factor is neurotransmitter that stimulates the production of new brain cells. Who doesn’t want more brain cells? Also by challenging your mind to perform new tasks involving memory, sequencing, processing, attention, etc. increases blood flow to different parts of the brain. That blood flow allows your brain to make connections it couldn’t before or quicker than it could before.
Now we add in Adventure. I feel it is important we are on the same page as to what I mean by adventure. In the google dictionary it says the meaning of Adventure is: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. Doing something different, not doing the same old routine repeatedly is good at curing boredom. By adding adventures to your fitness routine, you will be less likely to get bored of exercise. And if you don’t get bored you are less likely to quite your exercise routine before you get your desired results. Monotony can really spoil the best of intentions.
Exciting experiences have an addictive trait. If something excites you, you want to do it more often. That is another reason adventure is so great for our health. It gets you hooked to something active. I don’t hear of very many people being excited or obsessed with walking around an indoor track alone. There isn’t much there to keep you hooked for a lifetime. But how many people do you know who just love to go hiking even when they are old and grey? a lot! The secret is to make it routine so you can always participate in those active adventures even as you age.
Now the hazardous part is relative and will be different for every person. What I think is hazardous is very different than what my neighbor may think is hazardous. We all have different comfort zones and can only handle so much. So, should we really do something hazardous? That may sound stupid to you, but hear me out. By adding some degree of risk in our activities we involve adrenaline. Adrenalin is known for the fight or flight response. The immediate surge of adrenaline makes you more alert, enhances reaction time, and sends blood to the major organs and muscles. So you push harder in the workout than you normally would. When you challenge your muscles and heart more, you get better results…More muscle growth, more fat loss and more happy hormones. The rush you get from risky activities is good for you.
Besides strengthening your immunity, which adrenaline is also known for. It also leads to more confidence and sense of self. When have you ever truly regretted trying something new or pushing yourself out of your comfort zone? Chances are it was scary at first, but overall a worthwhile experience you would be open to trying again. Embracing adrenaline in adventurous situations and living to tell the tale increases feelings of euphoria and can ultimately increase overall confidence. Having more confidence in yourself and your abilities can not only help you become more open to new experiences, but it also increases feelings of wellbeing and prevents future feelings of chronic, harmful stress. Instead, more room is made for feel-good adrenaline and constructive, motivating stress. Let me say that again, prevents feelings of chronic, future stress. The stress that is involved in a somewhat hazardous activity prevents future stress. It’s like, our bodies want something to stress about. So instead of letting it manifest later in work or relationships, let’s give it something productive and healthy to stress over. I suggest a challenging adventurous workout.
Now don’t take this too far too fast. Remember how I said we all have different comfort zones? Well, we do. So start your adventures small. If you have never hiked before. Start there. But if that isn’t an adventure to you, try a new trail. You risk getting lost on new trails. But plan ahead and map it out so you have good odds of surviving to tell the tale. There is also mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoning, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Even walking, biking, or running in the city can be adventurous. Just be smart and keep the hazards to a survivable level. Prepare and educate yourself.
You get to decide what makes it an adventure. Trying something new, going somewhere new, bringing someone new. Tailor it to challenge your own physical and mental comfort levels. And as you do these physical adventures you will start to see your confidence increase, your brain fog will clear, and you will be a happier and more positive you. You will also be in shape!
What fitness adventure will you try this week? Leave us a comment below.