The SparkPeople Blog

Isn't It Time You Stepped Out of Your Comfort Zone?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/3/2020  12:00:00 AM   :  131 comments   :  36,170 views

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." T.S. Eliot

You might think of adventure as something reserved for those with little responsibility who thrive on chaos and live for adrenaline. The truth is that everyone needs a little adventure in their lives to help them grow in happiness and good health. According to research, the desire to seek new experiences is a natural human tendency—and that includes experiences related to your health and wellness. Adrenaline junkie or not, we all need to shake up the routine now and then.

Don't let the term "adventure" lead you to believe you should start planning your climb up Mount Everest or scuba diving with sharks. According to Chris Englert, founder of Eat Walk Learn, adventure isn't as much of an activity as it is a state of mind. "With an adventurous state of mind, curiosity comes out and activity soars. It can be as simple as strapping on your walking shoes and discovering your city." Englert believes that adventure begins the moment you think up an idea. "To find your next adventure, dig into your thoughts. Do you have a bucket list? Have you watched a show or read a book that has inspired you? Start there," she suggests.

Being Adventurous Has Its Advantages

Feeling invigorated and actively engaged in life. "After [finding a job out of college], we sometimes become more deeply ingrained in our routines, which help us navigate our lives successfully," explains social worker Arthur Anderson. "For better or worse, these routines sometimes do not allow for enough variability within our lives." Anderson asserts that everyone's idea of adventure is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all version of what constitutes an adventurous experience. "Choosing an experience that is slightly outside of your normal but still allows you to feel safe and supported is very important. Going too far outside of your comfort zone can have the opposite intended effects." 

Allowing your curiosity to breathe. "This curiosity leads to active lifestyles, engaged friendships and interactive experiences," Englert says. "In turn, we develop more compassion, empathy and patience with the world, ultimately leading to a more peaceful existence."

Limiting feelings of stagnancy. Anderson points out that feelings of stagnancy can come from one's job, routine or feeling as though you can't engage in activities you once enjoyed. "Stimulating feelings of adventure can help counteract these feelings of stagnancy by reinvigorating past interests and fostering new ones."

Personal growth. Learning and developing new skills is a lifelong process. By pushing your limits, you might not always succeed, but you will likely learn something new about yourself. Don't hesitate to try new things because you're afraid to fail. Instead, think of those experiences as stepping stones to success.

Choose Your Own Adventure

If an adventurous mindset doesn't come naturally to you, never fear! "All you have to do is commit to making one change," advises entrepreneur Rebecca Binnendyk. This could mean telling family and friends you're focusing on your health when you usually keep those goals to yourself, or taking the exercise class that has always looked interesting but intimidating. "It might be putting aside $100 to buy the bike you keep saying you want to ride to work to get into better shape," says Binnendyk. "[Take] action, even if it feels different or uncomfortable. In fact, the more uncomfortable it feels, the more adventurous it probably is and the more rewarding the outcome will likely be."

When you're ready to step out of your comfort zone, consider starting with these simple ideas:

  • Experiment with recipes from other cultures.
  • Find new ways to take care of your mental health. Taking a yoga class, setting up a meeting with a therapist or starting a daily meditation practice are all good places to start.
  • Volunteer with an organization with a mission you believe in.
  • Try a new workout. Who knew kickboxing could be so fun?
  • Say "yes" when your first reaction is to say "no."
  • Check out a new genre of music.
  • Ask someone new to join you for a workout.
  • Change up your routine. Work out in the morning instead of at night, or pack your lunch instead grabbing the usual takeout.
  • Try a food you'd ordinarily decline. If it's been 10 years, it's time to give salmon another try.
  • Become a mentor. Inspiring others can inspire you.

When it comes to your health and wellness, the possibilities are endless for big and small adventures. All you need is a little courage and one step forward to dive into something new.

6 Budget-Friendly Ways to Work Out at Home

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/25/2020  12:00:00 AM   :  149 comments   :  163,114 views

You've seen the infomercials for fancy treadmills, stationary bikes with screens for streaming workouts and professional-grade strength equipment. If only you had thousands of dollars to spare, you'd be able to get a quality workout without ever leaving home.

Although unlimited income or a gym membership offer access to a wide variety of exercise options, it's not a necessity to get fit. In fact, you can use the privacy and convenience of home to create a budget-friendly workout routine that works for you. Often the challenge isn't what equipment to buy, but rather, what to do with it once you get it home.  By learning a few basic movements, you can start simple, slowly building in complexity and difficulty to get stronger and healthier.

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Hit the Trails With These 7 Pro Hiking Tips

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/15/2020  12:00:00 AM   :  187 comments   :  78,895 views

Did you know there are almost 200,000 miles of trails on federal land in the United States? From steep and rugged terrains to flat, well-traveled routes, there is something for anyone who wants to get out and enjoy the fresh air. Not only is a trail run or hike great exercise, research shows that spending time outside is associated with good health and well-being.

Before you head out on a new outdoor adventure, though, there are a few things you should know. Trail running and walking aren't quite the same as traversing paved surfaces, so it's important to be prepared. With the right equipment and expectations, you can enjoy all the benefits that your local trails have to offer.

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3 Important Things to Know Before Starting a Walking Program

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/28/2020  12:00:00 AM   :  198 comments   :  553,743 views

That walking trail at the local park has been calling your name since you moved into your house, and your co-workers have already told you how much they love their weekly walking group. You know the benefits and you know you'll love it if you could just get started—but you're not sure exactly how to do that.

Walking is the perfect form of physical activity for many reasons, and the fact that it's accessible to almost everyone is at the top of our list. Whether you're just getting started or want to take your race walking to the next level, it can be a challenging activity for any fitness level when done right. But it's not just as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. To get a proper workout from walking, there are three important questions you'll want to answer before you tie up your sneakers.

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How to Avoid the 10 Most Common Running Mistakes

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/7/2020  12:00:00 AM   :  175 comments   :  78,527 views

One foot in front of the other. On the surface, running seems like a simple activity.  In reality, though, it's not that easy. Without the proper footwear, clothing, warm-up and training, you risk injury, and frankly, a miserable experience.  

The right gear and plan can make running a positive addition to any workout routine—just don't repeat the same mistakes many runners, both new and experienced, often make.

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5 Foam-Rolling Moves Your Muscles Will Appreciate

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/24/2020  12:00:00 AM   :  140 comments   :  72,340 views

Stretching is stretching, right? Not according to people who swear by foam rolling. The foam roller is a simple, inexpensive tool that can be used in a variety of ways to enhance your exercise routine. Whether you're looking for a new way to warm up before a workout or you need to stretch tight muscles, reduce soreness and recover quicker, the foam roller can help.

Used as a form of self-myofascial release, foam rollers can help reduce muscle tension while also increasing flexibility. If you're a beginner and have any injuries or chronic conditions (such as fibromyalgia), make sure you get clearance from your doctor before starting a regular foam rolling routine. Take things slowly if you're new to the foam roller because the process can be uncomfortable, especially if muscles are tight. Start with shorter sessions and move gently through each exercise. It shouldn’t feel comfortable when you’re rolling, but also shouldn’t feel painful. Mild discomfort with steady pressure is usually appropriate.  

Luckily, you don't need to carve out lots of extra time for foam rolling. Using the foam roller for just 10 minutes, two to three times per week will improve range of motion and reduce post-workout muscle soreness. Get started with these five exercises that are guaranteed to hit your muscles in all the right places. 


Sit tall on the floor with legs out in front of you, left ankle crossed over the right and toes pointed up toward the ceiling. Place the foam roller under your right ankle and place palms on the floor at your sides, lifting your backside off the ground. Roll your right calf from ankle to knee three to five times. Repeat with toes pointed inward, then toes pointed out before switching to the other leg.


Sit tall with legs out in front of you and the roller under one knee. Bend the other knee with the foot flat on the floor. Put palms on the floor at your sides and press down to lift your backside off the ground. Slowly roll out along your hamstring until it reaches the bottom of your glute, then roll back in until it reaches your knee. Repeat seven to 10 times, then switch legs.


Lay on the floor with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and the roller behind your upper back. Lightly rest your hands behind your head for support and push with your feet to roll from your neck to the middle of your back. Repeat seven to 10 times.


Lie face down with the roller positioned perpendicular just above the knees on the quads with toes on the ground. With your bodyweight on your forearms, slowly push back until the roller reaches your hips. Then push forward until the roller reaches the starting position just above the knees. Repeat seven to 10 times.


Lie on your side with knees bent and the roller under your right shoulder. The right arm can be extended slightly to help guide the movement properly. Slowly roll up and down along your deltoid muscle using a small range of motion. Repeat seven to 10 times, then switch sides.


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