Fit for good: How a charity challenge can help your fitness goals

Setting a fitness goal with the aim of helping those less fortunate gives your heart a workout in more ways than one.

Need more motivation to spur you on to fitness success?

How about signing up for a month’s worth of moving to support a worthy cause?

Charities have lost a huge amount of potential fundraising money during the pandemic, with the cancellation of many fun run events.

Previously, 3.4 million Australians were participating in 21,000 events in a normal year.

But through 2020 and 2021 many of these were events were cancelled.

How to get involved in a charity fitness challenge

Charity fitness challenges are a great way to make up the shortfall for your favourite cause.

Challenges come in many forms to suit all interests and abilities.

It could involve running, walking, cycling, swimming, or a strength activity such as push-ups, and it may be a one-off event such as a walk or run, or continue over a week, month or longer.

Participants usually sign up on the event website and log their progress online through a Fitbit, phone app, or by typing their results into the site.

They may invite people to donate to support their cause by sharing a link.

Can a charity challenge help me too?

Absolutely, according to experts.

Having a goal to work towards can give new direction and help push you towards achieving new skills and benchmarks in your workouts.

When we start exercising, we often do it for external reasons such as wanting to change our weight or the way we look.

But finding other, more meaningful, motivations can keep us going when our enthusiasm wanes, Australian Institute of Fitness Head of Compliance and Training Kate Kraschnefski says.

“Intrinsic motivation, which comes from doing something like supporting a charity, can sustain us for a lot longer,” Kate says.

This format of fitness also means the benefits can often extend far beyond the duration of the challenge, as you’re training your body to enjoy regular exercise.

“If you’re someone who struggles to get going, picking a challenge that goes over a period of time can be ideal because it takes around three weeks to form a habit,” she says.

Real life charity fitness experience

Asti Mardiasmo was surprised by how much encouragement she received when she signed up for a charity event.

“We did the Fred Hollows Foundation Fred’s Big Run Challenge, with the aim of raising $250 for 25km walked,” Asti says.

“This may not sound much, but for me it’s a big deal, as I am not sporty at all.

“At the time, I didn’t run and I didn’t even walk beyond what is necessary.

“The amount of support my partner and I received was incredible.

“It pushed me into finishing.

“We achieved a little bit more than our $250 fundraising goal, which was amazing.”

Asti was even more surprised by the impact the experience had on her.
“Fred’s Big Run has changed me,” she says.

“I started finding peace and enjoyment in walking and now do 5km walks every fortnight.

“I’ve even joined a running club.

“I am still at the back of the pack waddling along, but who knows what might happen!”

Charity events to get your moving

Keen to start moving for charity? Consider signing up for these gems:

The Bloody Long Walk

In the virtual version, walk or run 35km across 10 days wherever you are to raise funds for curing mitochondrial disease.

There are also one-day walks scheduled across various capital cities and other select locations throughout the year.

The Push-Up Challenge

Raise awareness as well as funds for mental health by joining the push-up challenge.

The target is 3139 push-ups over 24 days, but you can aim for 25, 50, 75, 100 per cent.

Do it solo or form a team – it’s a great way to improve your strength and learn about mental health.

Register on the website and invite friends and family to donate.

Shake It Up Challenge

Help tackle Parkinson’s disease by raising money for Shake It Up, which is partnered with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, to fund research into the condition.

Open to all ages and abilities, sign up anytime and nominate your activity to get going.

Suggested ideas to get you moving include attempt to run 100km in 30 days or walking a distance equivalent to Everest Base Camp.

Choose your own charity adventure

Go your own way by choosing a charity, setting up a GoFundMe page and selecting your exercise activity, duration and the distance or number of reps to be completed. Share on your socials, invite sponsors and you’re off!

For more health and wellbeing inspiration, check out the January edition of The House of Wellness, available free at your local Chemist Warehouse.

Written by Rebecca Douglas.