The history of the 25 in 25® Exercise Challenge

by | Health


In 2000 I decided to try something with my family to keep them active during the holiday season. I created the 25 in 25® exercise challenge. Whoever made it through to December 25 received an extra gift from me. 

Why the 25 in 25® Exercise Challenge?

In my family, it was the busiest month for all of us. We had at least six parties to attend in the 3-4 days around Christmas. On top of that, my husband and I would drive home to Indiana from Washington, D.C. (now North Carolina). When I offered up the challenge in the first year, I was surprised that everyone in my family, except for one person, decided to participate. That has continued for seventeen years.

Our Family Rules:

  1. Exercise purposefully for 25 minutes every day starting December 1. It can be all at once or spread throughout the day.
  2. Alternatively, wear a pedometer and walk 3 miles or 6000 steps.
  3. There are no excuses, even if they have a cold, are traveling, or are pregnant! Remember, it is a choice to participate, not mandatory.
  4. They can skip Christmas Day, but only if they exercise 50 minutes on Christmas Eve.

I can't believe that all these years later, we are still doing it! My Mom, Dad, and husband have won a prize every year. Mom made it through crazy split-shift work hours and Dad through business travel, where he counted his steps or miles during 13-hour days. My husband rode his bike in single-digit temps and returned with ice on his beard. My sister has missed it a few times, but she did it twice while pregnant and not feeling great. My brother has lost a few times, but I know his little Rat Terrier-Chihuahua Dogter Lexi loves getting the extra walks in. His wife even did it while going through treatments for thyroid cancer. Now they play movement video games at night, so it's a double dose of exercise and quality time.

My favorite story is from when my niece Ava was four, and she was on her mom's elliptical machine, saying she needed to get her 40 hours in for Aunt Marcey. My nieces Ava and Lily have done it since they were little, often dancing and playing outside to get in their 25. Sometimes my family will grumble about exercising, but it's always a choice, and it certainly pushes them.

The 25 in 25® Challenge

Five years ago, I started the challenge on Coach.Me to open it up to people all over the world. Then I moved it to the Nudge platform, and now with so many challenges, I've taken it back to just the family. The holiday season is the hardest to stay active, but everyone (even you!) can find 25 minutes, a 10 and 15-minute chunk, or walk 6000 steps. Knowing that you have other family members going through the same struggles with time and the same parties makes you want to keep going.

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