Visit any of the fitness websites on the Internet, and you'll find mention of at least one 30-day exercise challenge. These challenges have become hugely popular, and people tend to sign up for the 30-day challenges far more than they do for the longer-running ones. The 30-day Squat Challenge posted by our sister-site, FitDay, has already gotten dozens of comments, and even more "Shares." But what is it about these 30-day challenges that are so popular?
Blame It On Our Attention Span
It's interesting to examine the popularity of these 30-day challenges compared to those that run 45 days, 60 days, 90 days, or even longer. 30-day challenges provide us with a short-term goal to work towards, and it's pretty easy to stick with something as long as we know it's JUST 30 days. Once the challenge passes the one-month mark, it starts to feel more long-term. Thanks to the modern person's short attention span and the fear of commitment to any one exercise program, these 30-day challenges are the perfect length.
But Are They Effective For Weight Loss?
This is the big question: do they really work?
Well, let me answer that question with another question: how much weight can you lose in one month?
If you're just starting out with exercise, you'll find that losing two or three pounds per week is possible with the right fitness program. Starting a 30-day challenge can help you to drop as many as 10 pounds in a single month, but ONLY if your body is unaccustomed to doing exercise.
If, however, you've been hitting the gym regularly or doing your own home workouts, a 30-day challenge can help you to lose four or five pounds. Your metabolism is already working, so you won't get too much of a boost by doing the 30 day challenge. You'll lose a bit more weight, but only if you follow the program to the T.
What makes them slightly more effective for weight loss than your average gym workout is that you're more likely to push yourself harder, diet a bit more strictly, and be a bit more faithful with your efforts. When you have a vague, undefined fitness goal that you achieve through a workout, it's harder to quantify your results. You just work out hoping that you'll lose weight or get in shape over the course of the next few months or year, but without any real structure.
A 30-day challenge gives your workouts some structure, at least for the month that it lasts. It's much easier for you to wrap your mind around it, and you can tell yourself, "Just a few more days or weeks and them I'm done." With a general fitness goal, you're never really done, so it's much easier for you to say, "I can pick up the slack tomorrow." When you've only got 30 days, you have to make each one count. This is why 30 day challenges tend to be more popular--and often more effective--than a regular workout.