10 Hobbies That Challenge You Physically and Mentally

Are you bored of hobbies that offer no resistance or lack of challenge? Perhaps you don’t have a hobby and want to see how much you can push your limits. Whatever the reason, we’re sure you’ll find a hobby on our list that will challenge you from both a physical and mental point of view.

It’s also worth pointing out that not everyone will have the same perspective on what’s challenging so we’ll try to keep it clear why we think you’ll find some positive struggles in the activities that we suggest.

That’s also another great point too, most difficult situations or tasks (although frustrating at the moment) can actually be a great way to build resilience and can help you reach the next point in your life that requires a little more tenacity.

Complex challenges are worth the reward in the long run; most older people will understand this due to hindsight but it can be worth embracing them from a young age to help you build character.

1. Endurance Running

Endurance running gets a special mention in our list, above things like “working out” or hitting the gym. This is because the goal of marathon running is clear; it’s to push your body to its absolute limit beyond anything that’s considered normal.

Even marathon running (although a good way to get into endurance running) is not as rigorous or as complete as endurance running which can have you running across full states or parts of the country for hundreds of miles (or kilometers).

This demands complete focus, pre-planning, and the ability to push past the point where your brain is yelling at you to stop.

You may even suffer injuries during the process especially if you’re running across treacherous terrain. In fact, due to the distance, it’s quite likely that you’ll injure yourself or suffer from bad blisters so make sure you know how to handle this.

You can also compete in other endurance sports like triathlons but running requires basically no equipment and can be done by most people making it an attractive entry in our list for challenging yourself.

2. Powerlifting

Powerlifting is an area of bodybuilding that has you constantly pushing your muscles to the absolute limit in terms of how much weight you can lift, and sometimes, can even focus on some explosive movements like the clean and snatch.

These movements often require a high degree of care along with a dedicated spotter to make sure you’re safe from crushing or severely maiming yourself. Pretty hardcore right?

Powerlifting is arguably the hardest discipline within bodybuilding.

It also requires tedious levels of precision each day to make sure you’re getting adequate nutrition that meets all of your intake goals for fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

You’ll also want to be chugging lots of water which can end up feeling like a chore as it’s hard to take in that much food and water throughout the day.

To make good progress, you’ll also need to adhere to a strict powerlifting schedule each week for multiple days that could last for many years to see the best results.

With that said, it can be rewarding especially as powerlifting is becoming more visible and popular thanks to online mediums like social media and YouTube meaning you could make a career of it.

3. Learn an Instrument

Most people fall into a category where it doesn’t come naturally to learn an instrument and in fact, it often requires regular practice for many years to see results where you can play from muscle memory or without any cues.

You’ll have to learn chords, tempo, rhythm, and how to read music to name a few things which are all specific subjects that require special attention to make you a better musician.

Similar to learning a second language, music is often easier to learn when you’re younger due to the brain’s ability to adapt better (neuroplasticity).

You can pick any instrument you want and they all come with their own challenges; with that said, the piano (or keyboard) is the most versatile and can lead to easier integration within the area of music production due to how most music workstations operate.

4. Learn a Second Language

Learning a second language is extremely hard for most people as you have to learn new letters, new pronunciations, and completely new words that all have to be assimilated to make sense when the moment arises.

Just like music, learning another language is much easier when we are younger as our brain has a greater ability to change or adapt.

Our brain goes through a process of crystallization when we hit maturity that solidifies certain connections that have been used regularly throughout childhood which means making new connections is not as easy.

Learning a second language is especially tough when we get older.

It’s extremely tedious and requires regular daily practice. In fact, most people recommend trying to live in a country for a while that uses the same language to help you adapt to all the nuances that come with language.

Alternatively, instead of moving to the country, try mixing your video game time with specific foreign communities that speak the language you want to learn. This way you can game and learn at the same time which makes it far more enjoyable!

5. Start Coding

Coding is similar to learning a second language due to the fact it has specific syntax (ways of arranging things) that need to be learned to dictate the specific outcome you want.

Some languages are harder to learn as they may have greater room for detail than others. You might have far more things to be effective in your repertoire but you also need to learn it all first.

Coding can also involve having a good understanding of mathematical concepts such as algebra and physics that can be used to enhance the project you’re making.

With that said, math is something that many people struggle with and this could hinder your chances to become a successful coder.

If you’re interested, we recommend using free resources such as Codecademy which you can find through a quick Google search or searching for the appropriate material through YouTube to help you learn.

6. Try Public Speaking

Public speaking is something that can be done for many events or occasions, and can even come in useful for your career prospects especially to land a job that holds importance where you’ll need to brief many people.

For most people, public speaking is something that makes them cringe or curl up into a ball at the thought of it. This anxiety is also what stops people from progressing into managerial positions or a position of seniority that could have them on a better salary.

Public speaking is best learned in a practical environment (in front of people) as you’ll never get over the fear of it otherwise.

You can start in front of friends or family first to find you’re feet, especially as they’re less likely to be critical of your performance but could still provide you with some good feedback.

Good public speaking requires several important skills such as the ability to tell stories, how to read body language for receptiveness, the ability to deliver humor, and the opportunity to let your personality shine through at the moment without compromising on what you’re delivering.

7. Read Books

Most people can read but they don’t usually finish books completely and will often only read one or two books a year if that.

Reading can be hard at first especially if you’re used to highly stimulating activities like playing video games, watching YouTube, and going out clubbing.

Your brain will often resist at first but will eventually become more sensitive to the enjoyment of reading if you give it enough time away from stimulating activities.

Most people recommend doing a “dopamine detox” that involves not doing any highly stimulating activities for a few days to help your brain switch off from craving these distracting hobbies.

Once you get the hang of reading books you’ll find it very enjoyable when you get to imagine fantasy worlds or wonder about the politics of historical time periods. Each book is like a new moment of joy.

8. Start a Side Business

If you want to escape the rat race then developing a side business in something you enjoy could be a challenging hobby and very rewarding in the long run.

The reality of our world is that most average jobs won’t give you enough money to save up and quit your job or to better your life.

You’re given just enough to meet the monthly demands that allow you to survive but with very little enjoyment.

Side businesses are extremely challenging and demanding at first especially if you can’t afford to quit your job right away as you’ll have to develop it in your spare hours or days off (if you get any).

It can also be quite solitary or lonesome at times and you will need to forgo fun activities for a while such as playing games or going out with friends.

The most important thing to remember when developing a business on the side is that it’s hard at first but will allow you to enjoy yourself whenever you want once you’ve gained enough momentum.

9. Try Off-Grid or Frugal Living

Living life with only the basic necessities in a deliberate fashion can become a cathartic experience that can help you get in touch with your real self.

It helps you to dig deeper to find a purpose in your day rather than being spoon-fed with super stimulating activities like playing games, watching movies, and over-indulging in junk foods.

Some people take it even further and cut themselves off from mainstream society by living off-grid where you’ll need to source food, water, and heat to keep themselves comfortable (or alive). Here’s an amazing video documenting one man’s journey on an island for 300 days (mostly alone):

These are all challenging experiences that expose you to the reality of life but can also become a way of living for many people once they’ve tried it.

If you want an experience that pushes you to your limits then this could be the best one to commit to.

Make sure to try frugal living first before going off-grid to help you adapt to the challenges that lie ahead without access to electricity or power and easy access to food.

10. Try an Extreme Sport

Extreme sports aren’t for the faint-hearted and will require you to confront your base human instinct to avoid life-threatening situations.

Some of the most extreme sports or hobbies include base jumping, skydiving, and skiing which can expose you to life-or-death situations nearly every time you do them.

You’ll need to have your wits about you and be able to keep calm under pressure especially if something goes wrong.

With that said, many people who try these activities are often left in awe and explain how it’s the only way to get such a feeling or to experience a rush that you can’t usually get in normal day-to-day living.

As always, it’s important to do thorough research before you commit to an extreme sport as they can lead to tragic consequences that could otherwise have been avoided.

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Many hobbies can be challenging physically and mentally but some are arguably more so such as the ones we’ve listed above that are generally agreed on as being very challenging.

Some of the hobbies can be more challenging in terms of pace or endurance and some will throw you in the deep end immediately which requires you to thrive under pressure. People usually crave a challenge when their lives are unfulfilling, especially in an age where we’re born into a comfortable situation.

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