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John A. Mays, MSEd
Go Outside Your Comfort Zone
Fitness Together

Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

Convinced you “can't” run a marathon, or sprint at level 10 on that treadmill? Are you sure about that?

Even if you have a physical challenge or condition that limits you in some way, most of us also create false boundaries for ourselves – “no-can-do's” that are only in our heads. And more and more studies are showing that the thing you think you can't do just might be the one thing you MUST do to light a fire under your workout results.

Breaking through these false limits can also lead you to be more consistent about your workout regimen.

“Intensity is by far the most important factor affecting increases in, and maintenance of, cardio fitness,” notes Jeffrey M. Janot, PhD, technical editor of the IDEA Fitness Journal. “Although we do not know the exact level of intensity that provides optimal health and fitness benefits, we know the optimal range and that it is directly related to exercise program adherence. You may not enjoy an exercise program if you get sore or injured because the intensity is too high. On the other hand, you can grow bored with a program if intensity is below the optimal range and you aren't improving.”

Why Push Your Limits In
Your Workout Regimen?

The body is wired to adapt to routine. Once your body gets used to a routine of walking 2 miles a day, for example, you'll likely see less or slower weight loss than when you first began that routine. Extensive research has shown that to keep seeing results from an exercise routine, it's essential to continually include intervals of higher stress and demand on the muscles and cardiovascular system.

Many people work out only hard enough to maintain their existing weight and physique. Going outside your comfort zone includes adding some intense workout challenges to build muscle and get stronger, faster and leaner. That doesn't mean you have to run a marathon or work out 6 hours a day to lose weight or reach your goals. The point is to keep adding new challenges and different ways of pushing past your limits for speed, distance, weight you can heft, etc.

Why Don't More People Go
“Outside the Lines”
With Their Workouts?

Challenging yourself is uncomfortable by nature. It's normal to feel a sense of fear or angst when you think about pushing beyond the places where you usually stop, ease up, or take a break. Common fears include whether you can handle an intense “burn” in your muscles and not get injured; or feeling embarrassed about getting out of breath, or even sweating more than you're used to.

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