Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You…

5 reasons why the mantra, 'Do one thing every day that scares you,' is so important when it comes to working out. Switch up your exercise for results!

Do one thing every day that scares you.

I’ve read or heard this so many times (as has anyone who’s ever gone home clutching a Lululemon shopping bag) and sort of vaguely thought, “Yup, good advice.” But like all advice I think sounds like a good idea without actually thinking too hard about, when I do pay attention, I find myself thinking, ‘What does that actually mean, anyway?’ Things that scare me include spiders, and horror movies. So if I actually did something every day that scared me, I can’t imagine it improving my life too much.

What I think it actually means is, “Do one thing every day that challenges you.” (It just doesn’t have the same catchy sound to it.) 

When it comes to the way you work out and choose to move your body, challenging yourself and trying new things is the best thing you can do. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable organisms. We adapt quickly to physical forces put upon our bodies – that’s why you get better at a sport or exercise with practice. It’s also why your body starts expending less energy to do the same workout, once you’ve become accustomed to it. What’s happening is your body has found the most efficient way possible to do that particular exercise – efficiency in this case meaning using the least amount of energy necessary.

If you find yourself at a point where you love your chosen form of exercise, it can seem counter-intuitive to decide to switch things up and try something new. And if you’re anything like me, it can be mentally challenging as well. Part of my love of my solo runs is that I know exactly what to expect, I know how it will make me feel, I know what I’m capable of – there are no surprises, it’s almost like a comforting routine. Yes, I push myself, and do speedwork, or tempo runs, or other workouts to keep my fitness level high, but it’s a familiar exercise for me. It’s been eye-opening to me the difference it’s made to my fitness level and my endurance to switch from roads to trails, as well as add in more yoga and spinning and other forms of group fitness. 

What are the other benefits to challenging yourself with a new form of workout?

You beat boredom – if your workout starts to feel like routine, or it doesn’t make you excited to think about going to work out, it may be time to switch things up. Routine is a great way to create habits and make exercise a part of your life, but if you’ve lost the spark that made you want to make it part of your routine, then it’s time to switch it up.

It’s good for your brain as well as your body. Whenever you’re learning a new skill, regardless of whether the skill is mental or physical in nature, your brain is challenged and creating new synapses. 

Prevent injuries – specifically overuse injuries. Whenever you’re doing the same form of exercise over and over again, you’re at a higher risk for repetitive strain injury. It’s why I’m constantly pushing strength training for runners, so that you’re challenging your muscles in different ways and building strength where you need it for running.

Break through a plateau. You may be experiencing a workout plateau, in which you’re not seeing any strength, fitness, or measurable gains, because your body is so used to its routine exercise that it has stopped adapting. If your goal is weight loss, becoming too used to a certain form of exercise can contribute to a weight loss plateau, when you’re seemingly doing everything you can to lose weight, but nothing appears to be shifting.

Build confidence. It can prove to be a huge confidence booster to try a new form of exercise. Whether you pick up the new necessary skills easily, or struggle at first, just having set an intention to challenge yourself, then following through on that, is a way of telling yourself you can do hard things.

That leads us back to the original mantra: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” If you know that pushing past your comfort zone is beneficial for your body, your brain, and your mental health, why wouldn’t you challenge yourself?

When was the last time you switched up your exercise routine? What benefits did you notice?


  1. These are great pieces of advice! I always make it a point to challenge myself especially when it comes to working out. It always amazes me when I realize how far I’ve come and how I’ve overcome challenges I never thought I would be able to.


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