Easy ways to exercise at home and raise money for charity

Becky Banham
By Becky Banham,
updated on Apr 8, 2022

Easy ways to exercise at home and raise money for charity

Calling all ‘Stay at home heroes’, get your activewear on and put your best foot forward to do something good for a great cause

If there’s one thing that lockdown has proved, it’s that exercise is absolutely as much about taking care of your mental health as it is your physical health. With restrictions ongoing outside, it’s encouraging many of us to look at exercise in a positive light. Going for a walk, cycle or run can be a little break of freedom during each day.

Despite our increased enthusiasm for outdoor activities, as Coronavirus lockdown restrictions remain, yet more fundraising events are being cancelled or postponed. This is thought to be having a catastrophic effect on UK charities, leading to an estimated loss of £4 billion for the sector.

Thankfully, some great initiatives are looking to tackle this. Here we explore three campaigns that are encouraging people to get active, all in aid of good causes.

The 2.6 Challenge

For many charities, 26 April would have been the biggest fundraising day of the year, thanks to the London Marathon – the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event, which raised £66.4 million for charities in 2019 alone.

In response to the postponement of this year’s marathon, the UK’s mass participation sports event industry has come together to create The 2.6 Challenge, a nationwide fundraising campaign to ‘Save the UK’s Charities’ on Sunday 26 April.

Don’t worry - you haven’t got to run a marathon to take part (unless you want to). All this initiative invites you to do is think of an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26. So, whatever your age or ability, you can take part. After all, this campaign isn’t looking for superheroes, it’s looking for ‘Home Heroes’ – and yes, that’s you!

How can you help?

  • Run or walk 2.6 miles (or km) – or for 26 minutes.
  • Exercise at home for 26 minutes (or 2.6 minutes).
  • Do 26 press-ups.
  • Walk up and down the stairs 26 times.

Or anything else you can think of! Take a look at the 2.6 Challenge website for more ideas on how to get involved.

The initiative aims to raise £67 million for the UK’s charities by the end of April. It’s estimated that if 2.6 million people fundraise or donate £26, this can become a reality.

To take part, simply decide your #TwoPointSixChallenge and your chosen charity, then either select ‘donate’ (if you’re donating money yourself) or ‘fundraise’ (if you’ll be asking loved ones to sponsor you).

Race For Life at Home

With Race for Life events postponed until the autumn, Cancer Research UK is encouraging the nation to keep active and united by signing up for Race for Life at Home, in partnership with Tesco.

There are three ways supporters can take part, with options for everybody to get involved in their own way, donating to the cause where they can. From a family dance-off in the garden to a HIIT workout in the living room, there is no right or wrong way to do a Race for Life at Home.

Once you’ve signed up on Race for Life’s website for free, you can:

  1. Join Facebook Live events – a variety of hosts will lead you through different exercise routines.
  2. Create your own challenge from your living room – this could be a record number of burpees or a yoga session, anything goes! Encourage friends and family to join in the challenge too.
  3. Go for a solo walk, jog, or run – this could be 5 km, 10 km or simply a lap around the garden.

Participants are encouraged to show their support by sharing their challenges and activities on their own social media channels using the hashtag #RaceForLifeAtHome. Updates on the online Facebook live events, including upcoming dates and hosts, will be available on Race for Life’s Facebook page in the coming weeks.

Sarah Pickersgill, head of Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, said: “We’ve made the difficult decision to postpone our Race for Life events until later in the year, and this will inevitably have an impact on Cancer Research UK’s ability to carry out life-saving research. While many of us may feel our lives have been put on hold, cancer hasn’t stopped, and people affected by cancer need our support more than ever.

“We wanted to do something to bring our fantastic community together and thank them for their ongoing patience and commitment, which is why we’re very excited to launch Race for Life at Home! Everyone who signs up can get creative and take part in whatever way they want.

“There is no challenge too great or small when it comes to Race for Life at Home. Whatever you do just remember to join in, have fun, stay safe and share your experience with the community online. There’s also an option to donate if you wish. We may be apart but we’re still in this together.”

Run for Heroes

Another campaign that’s been taking social media by storm is Run for Heroes – perhaps better known as the ‘Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5’ challenge. The challenge was created at the end of March by Olivia Strong, who set up the Run For Heroes Instagram account in a bid to raise millions of pounds for NHS Charities Together.

The account, which now has over 60,000 followers, features reposts of those taking part, including some very famous faces.

“I was out running and I saw how many people were also out running,” Strong told Pure Radio. “I thought: surely there’s something in this? Surely we can put this to a cause. I thought if people can afford to give £5, it’s not too much of an ask, and people will feel like they’re doing something, and if they nominate five people then it will spread – almost like a virus.”

She added: “Our NHS workers are working tirelessly to protect us in this nerve-wracking time. I wanted to celebrate their efforts and raise money to help them continue the fight to save lives. I am overwhelmed by the response so far – what started as a small fundraiser with friends has grown into a global movement.”

It’s important to acknowledge that there has been some conflict regarding this cause, with some people believing that the campaign is insinuating that the NHS is a charity. This is, of course, not the case. The cause - NHS Charities Together - is a collective of more than 250 NHS charities across the UK, which gives £1 million a day to the NHS, providing vital funds to help the NHS do more.

To take part, you don’t have to wait to be tagged by a friend or family member to get involved – just go out and run, or walk, 5 km. After you’ve completed your 5km, take a picture holding up five fingers and post it on Instagram or your social media of choice. Then nominate five people by tagging them and, most importantly, donate £5 to the Run for Heroes campaign.

Remember, if you decide to take part in one of these challenges (or something similar), do what you can and enjoy it. This isn't something to punish your body over or to compare yourself against others. Just do your best, take your time and know that you're amazing for giving it a go.

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