Fitness challenges are not exactly a *new* thing.
You’ve probably been hearing about them for years and know a lot of people who swear by them. Maybe you’ve even tried one.
It’s easy to see the appeal. They’re generally very affordable, the time commitment isn’t too long, and - if the online progress pictures are anything to go by - people seem to get amazing results. But are they really the key to getting healthy and fit, or just crash diets in disguise?
Watch: Seven health myths, debunked. Post continues below.
Hold up. What is a health and fitness challenge?
Short-term fitness challenges all have different labels and marketing, but at their core they’re about the same thing; revamping diet and exercise routines over a short period of time (usually around eight weeks).
They’re often sold by fitness influencers, online personal trainers, and some commercial gyms, and are usually based around either a generic exercise program and meal plan, or customised based on individual goals.
Some people take to challenges to lose body fat, some to build muscle or gain weight, and some simply to improve general health and fitness. Sounds cool, right?
But is this actually a good way to get healthy?
Melanie McGrice, Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and a spokesperson for Dietitians Australia, believes a short challenge can be a good way to kick-start healthier habits.
"We know people are more likely to be motivated for a short period of time, so a six-or eight-week period is often a bite sized chunk that people can prioritise their health for," she says.
"It doesn’t mean they’re going to stop all of those changes [after the challenge], but it’s a lot less intimidating to think about making changes for six-to-eight-weeks than for 12 months or a lifetime.
"The more personalised the dietary advice is, the more beneficial. Not only will it be easier to follow, but it will also be more suitable to personal calorie and macronutrient requirements."
Could challenges be harmful?
Ok, so it makes sense that a structured program could be a good way to develop a new routine.