10 Challenges for you: 2018, are you keen?

Dr Phatho Zondi

MBChB, MSc Sports Medicine, MBA

Sports Science Institute of South Africa

A blink of the eyes and its April already! We hope 2018 has started off well for you and that, having entered this Yyear with enthusiasm and vigor, you have found your rhythm and are now laying a solid foundation to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

A few years ago, we set this 10 task challenge for a group of colleagues in Pretoria and, having recently stumbled upon it, we thought to try it again in 2018. The challenge consists of 10 tasks that are guaranteed to add some spark to your year and will hopefully force your to extend yourself in a way that will that will be fun, rewarding and hopefully…addictive! We look forward to hearing about your experiences!

Challenge 1: Sleep a minimum of 6 hours a night

Sleep, often considered a luxury, is in fact a crucial component of maintaining good physical, emotional and psychological health. People who are sleep deprived may be irritable, experience mood swings and lack of concentration, and are susceptible to illness and infections. Although we don’t all need the same number of hours of sleep per day, experts agree that most people need between 6 – 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to benefit from all the advantages of sleep and optimize performance.

Challenge 2: Drink at least 1.5l of water per day

Although the ideal water consumptions depends of one’s weight, metabolism and energy output, it is generally recommended that all adult individuals drink at least 1.5 – 3 litres of water per day. 60% of the body’s weight is made up of water, which is important for physiological functions such as maintaining blood volume, transporting nutrients, flushing out toxins and maintaining a moist environment in area’s like the ear, nose and throat.

Challenge 3: Physical Activity at least 5 times per weeks

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that 30 minutes of physical activity done 5 times per week is enough to enjoy the physiological and psychological benefits of physical activity. Physical activity can include anything from gardening, taking the steps, playing catch with the children or any form of traditional exercise like running or cycling.

Challenge 4: Enter a triathlon

Cross training is by far the best way to build fitness and remain injury free. Each different activity uses different muscle groups, or uses the same muscles differently, and thus limits the onset of overuse injuries. Also, having a variety of disciplines to train for makes exercise a lot more interesting and entertaining. Remember, not all triathlons are Iron Man distances! There are plenty shorter sprint distant triathlons suitable for participants of all ages and fitness levels.   Find out more on

Challenge 5: Try Yoga or Pilates (at least once)

For those of you who prefer a more gentle form of exercise, Yoga or Pilates are excellent ways to achieve flexibility, strength and, in the cases such as Ashtanga or Bikram Yoga, may also have cardiovascular benefit.

Challenge 6: Try a boot camp or cross fit class!

If you enjoy high intensity indoor or outdoor activity, boot camp and cross fit classes are designed to build strength and fitness through short classes (maximum 1 hour) but intense interval training.

Challenge 7: Enter your first fun run or…. half marathon or marathon

This may be the start of a new addiction. There is nothing quite as heartwarming as the camaraderie experienced in fun runs. Start with a 5km race, if its your first time, or for those you who are regulars, challenge yourself with your first half marathon (21km) or full marathon. Find races near you on

Challenge 9: Try Mountain Biking, Hiking or Trail Running

A lovely way to enjoy nature while being physically active is by hiking, trail running or mountain biking.  We have beautiful trails throughout South Africa. The  terrain makes for challenging and exciting exercise!  Try, or to find a trail for leisure, or to find an off-road race near you.

Challenge 7: Start Reading OR…Read MORE!

Some benefits of reading include: mental stimulation, stress reduction, improved knowledge, vocabulary, memory, analytical skills, writing skills…. And tranquility. Need I say more? Start by reading the newspaper or News24 everyday, consider subscribing to a daily expert feed in your field (eg Business Day), or simply engage in leisurely reading. Find the latest best-sellers on  or

Challenge 10: Try a different food/meal every month

As the saying goes ‘Variety is the Spice of Life!’ Try cooking a different meal using a recipe found online or from your colleague or neighbour? Order something different from your favourite restaurant or try a new restaurant? Trying a different food every month will not only expand your knowledge of food types and food groups, but will also show you new ways to maintain a well-balanced nutrient dense meal. To find some inspiration, try or