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The Benefits of Exercise: Reasons To Get Active For Charity

When you have the courage to step out of your comfort zone, you can change lives.

The benefits of exercise

Do you know the power of exercise? The benefits of regular exercise are many including that it lowers cholesterol, lowers the risk of high blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes, fights depression and helps your heart. But more than that, exercise can change the world!

All over the UK, a passionate community of Challengers are lacing up their shoes and braving the weather to run races like the Stirling Scottish marathon, conquer the Three Peaks challenge or cycle the Prudential RideLondon – all in pursuit of making a difference in communities all over the world.

And we want to give you the chance to join them – because when you have the courage to step out of your comfort zone, you can change lives.

The health benefits of exercise

Doing regular physical activity of moderate intensity such as walking or cycling can:

  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes
  • Reduce the risk of cancer including colon or breast
  • Fight depression 

Why is exercise good for you?

According to the World Health Organisation, adults aged between 18–64 years should aim to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week or at least 75 minutes of running, swimming or cycling.

benefits of exercise

Working towards a goal is always helpful like the Great Bristol 10K or doing a half marathon at the Great North Run in September.
But it doesn’t have to be daunting. Darren, our resident Challenge Events manager, advises,

Start with 10 minute sessions and slowly increase over time. The more you exercise, the more energy you will have and the longer and further you will be able to go. As exercising becomes part of your routine, the benefits of exercise will start to show.

Like the Chinese proverb says, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So what’s your single step today?

The benefits of running a half marathon: Amaris’ story

A half marathon is a great alternative or a stepping stone to the bucket list goal of a full marathon and you still receive marathon benefits including increased cardiovascular capacity. The UK is blessed with loads of half marathons including the Great Manchester Run.

A special day in the sporting calendar, the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run will see the one and only Mo Farah joining people on the starting line at the 2018 event. Compassion UK has five free places to give away to this amazing event where you’ll join a friendly team of people determined to change the world of a child through running.

benefits of running a half marathon


28-year-old Amaris from London challenged herself and ran a half marathon for Compassion UK last year:

But we made it. Every single one of us. The medal I received felt good hanging around my neck – I had earnt that. None of us alone can stop poverty, but we can each help one person, and I will never again underestimate just how much good that does.

The benefits of running 10K

Ah the 10K – an amazing race for both the weekend runner or the hardcore competitor. One of the most popular lengths to race, the 10K is useful for building strength, speed and stamina. It’s also much quicker to recover from than marathons yet still offers a challenge to conquer.

benefits of running

And best of all, you get to reap all the benefits of exercise at this distance. If you’re not sure how to run a 10K, start out slow and make sure you warm up first. Don’t forget to vary your training as you prepare for one of the 10K races around the UK including Birmingham, Bristol or Glasgow by including strength training around your running.

The benefits of cycling: Tobi’s story

Imagine cycling through the countryside, the sound of bird song in your ears and fresh air in your lungs. In Genesis, it says ‘And God saw everything He made and behold, it was very good.’ When we get outside to enjoy God’s good work, it has powerful positive benefits for our well-being.

cycling for Compassion

Tobi , a music teacher in West Sussex, set himself a challenge and cycled over 800 miles from John O'Groats to his home in Bognor Regis to raise an incredible £5,430 for Child Survival projects in the Philippines. His reason? “I’m doing this because I believe that all children deserve a better chance at a good life. The work that Compassion does through local churches to help children living in poverty is amazing and I want to support that through doing this bike ride.”

We’re abundantly blessed to enjoy bike riding through the British countryside with events like the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey, an exciting summer ride along 100 miles of closed roads between London and Surrey.

But is cycling good for you?

Mountain biking

A recent study published in the journal Aging Cell followed 125 amateur cyclists aged between 55 – 79 years of age, and found they had the immune systems of 20-year-olds. A separate study in the Aging Cell also confirmed that loss of muscle mass and strength did not occur in those who exercise regularly despite age. As Steve Harridge, co-author and professor of physiology at King's College London explains:

You don't need to be a competitive athlete to reap the benefits - or be an endurance cyclist - anything which gets you moving and a little bit out of puff will help. 

Running and cycling for charity

When it’s cold or dark or the TV is tempting you to stay inside, it can be hard to remember why you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. Which is where we can help – when you exercise for Compassion, you’re joining a community of like-minded people who cheer each other on to achieve the seemingly impossible.

why exercise is good for you

We’re offering you the opportunity to take part in a Compassion Challenge to empower children to step out of poverty into a future of hope. To challenge yourself to do something outside your comfort zone with what is already in your hands – you. Because your sacrifice today will change a child’s tomorrow.

The money you raise will support children in some of the poorest communities in the world. Whether it’s providing dental treatment in Brazil, building classrooms in Thailand or changing the life of a child through child sponsorship, the money you raise will have a tangible effect.

And when you need that extra motivation to conquer another mile or hike that hill or even just to run in the first place, understanding that your efforts are changing the world of a child helps to push you that little bit further.

Join our friendly and lively community of Challengers from all over the UK who are changing the world. Because together, we can do it.

Get active for charity

More top facts about the benefits of exercise:

Exercise and mental health

According to the NHS, one in four people will experience a mental health issue such as depression and anxiety each year. Exercise is an effective and powerful method of fighting depression. When you’re active, your body releases endorphins which are hormones linked to positive feelings such as calmness and well-being.

Running in Kenya

Getting active can release tension and often distracts your brain from dwelling on anxious things, helping to disrupt the cycle of negative thoughts. Physical activity also enhances our wellbeing, helping you to sleep better and improving your mental alertness and energy.

And the satisfaction of achieving something you never thought you could do is a feeling like no other. Mum-of-four Debbie never imagined she would run a half-marathon. But she decided to do ignore what fear was telling her and challenge herself to take part in a Muskathlon in Africa.

“I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. But last year, I ran over 13 miles in 28 degree heat, surrounded by stunning Rwandan landscape, alongside 22 of some of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Crossing the finish line was the most exhilarating feeling! The result of a lot of hard work but the feeling of achievement made it all worth it.”

Muskathlon runner

What happens to your body when you exercise?

  • Muscles: breathing increases and your heart starts pumping more blood to your muscles.
  • Lungs: As your muscles call for more oxygen, your breathing rate increases. Your body may need up to 15 times more oxygen when you exercise!
  • Heart: Your heart rate increases with physical activity to supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles. The more you exercise, the more efficient the heart becomes at this process, so you can work out harder and longer.
  • Brain: The increased blood flow also benefits your brain, allowing it to almost immediately function better. As a result, you tend to feel more focused after a workout. Exercise also triggers a surge of chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters, which include endorphins.

You don’t have to exercise run for hours on end in order to reap the benefits. And choosing to do so for charity is a hugely rewarding experience. We hope this inspires you to step out of the ordinary and into your next challenge!


Sources: WHO: Physical Activity, Ageing Cell: Activity in Adulthood

WORDS : Roz Walsh

PHOTOS : Compassion International



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