Asha Armin, Member of the Education Executive Committee talks about how doing exercise for charity is the best of both worlds.
Hi, my name is Asha, and I am a 3rd Year French and Spanish student. In this blog I will be talking about my experiences of how raising money for charity can keep you active and how rewarding of an experience it is!
Firstly, I want to tell you a little bit about my story with keeping active. Before February 2021, I was not very active, I had a very negative attitude towards exercise, I would worry about what others thought about me, I hated it and I did not see any benefits. I rarely had the motivation to exercise and when I did, I would end up going too far, too fast and I would end up injuring myself.
However, in February 2021 I made a choice that changed my life for the better. I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw an advertisement from Mind the mental health charity about their ‘Move for Mind’ challenge. This kept popping up numerous times and I eventually decided to click on it. The challenge was to raise a minimum of £150 for the charity and do 30 miles in 30 days. The best thing was that you could either walk, jog, or run the challenge which made it a bit easier for me as I had not done exercise for a long time.
I was super hesitant about signing up, but I decided to as I wanted to get more active, lose weight and raise money on behalf of those who have mental health conditions (like myself). At first, I thought that I would not complete the challenge. I got my trainers on, went for a walk, and realised that I got very tired very quickly and that I was not able to go very far either. When I came back from my walk, I felt a bit pessimistic, and I thought ‘have I made a mistake’?
As time went on my determination grew and although I did not walk very fast, I realised that I was going further and further. Lots of donations were coming in on my page with lots of lovely messages of support and this gave me extra motivation to keep going. Once I reached the halfway point, I was thinking ‘there is no stopping now’ and I kept going and my attitude towards exercise became more positive.
When I reached the last few km’s, I was super determined to finish the challenge. There were only a few days remaining, so I got my trainers on for the last time, and I went for it, I pushed through the pain and I only had 1km left. I imagined myself crossing the finish line and I managed to complete the challenge. I could not believe that I did it and I was emotional. I also felt a massive sense of accomplishment and I felt unstoppable.
In the end I managed to raise £170 and walk 30 miles in 30 days. This was an accomplishment beyond my wildest dreams, and it left me with a hunger to complete further challenges and raise more money. In addition, I received a medal for the challenge, and this was something that I will cherish forever.
The next month, I decided to sign up for another fundraiser, this time it was to run 27 miles in 27 days, and was also for Mind. I wanted to raise a bit more money for them as they are a charity that is very close to my heart, and also due to the success of the last challenge. I decided to walk it as I have not run for ages and without proper training, I would injure myself. Throughout this challenge my walking speed increased further, my confidence and attitude towards exercise grew further and I managed once again to complete the challenge. I raised £34 and walked over 27 miles in 27 days. It felt incredible and it left me with even more hunger to complete another challenge and raise more money for charity. I also had another medal to add to my collection.
Last month, I signed up to an even bigger challenge as I felt it was time to as my confidence and attitude towards exercise had increased and I felt physically ready. I signed up to a challenge by the British Heart Foundation and this was to do 100km in 30 days. I did not know much about the British Heart Foundation, but I knew they were an important charity. Like the Move for Mind challenge, I was hesitant about signing up as I have never done a challenge like this before, and it was quite a big one. I decided to walk this challenge again but focus even more on the speed of my walking and distance by setting myself personal targets to achieve. There were many benefits of this, it allowed me to complete the challenge a lot faster than the previous challenges I had done, I smashed my personal bests numerous times (5k and 10k records) and I went further than I have ever done before which was 16.84km in one day. I also learnt how to exercise in a safe way (apart from the many blisters that I got from my new running shoes) without injuring myself.
Throughout the month, I also received many positive messages of encouragement from the Facebook group I joined, and this motivated me more to get out and get active and not give up. Being part of a Facebook group also allowed me to learn about other people’s stories and progress and allowed me to cheer people on. I personally think this is a great thing to have when fundraising for charity as it creates a sense of community. In the end I went way past the 100km mark and raised £40.
After these three months, I am surprisingly still staying active, and I have now taken a massive decision to train myself to become a runner by using the Couch to 5k app. The app is incredible and the personal trainers on there are amazing and motivational. It is a mix of running and walking, but the programme gets harder and harder so there is less walking and more running. I am currently doing week 3 and I have found that my stamina has improved massively, and I can run for relatively long distances without feeling extremely tired. Moreover, I try to run 10k instead of 5 by doing multiple Couch to 5k runs!
Again, I am raising money for charity this month and doing it for St John Ambulance and completing their miles ahead challenge by doing 100 miles in 31 days. Alongside this I am doing some side challenges which you pay for by Pacer Virtual Adventure Challenges. I am completing their 300km Virtual Great Wall of China challenge, 200km Virtual Dubai Challenge and their 70km Virtual Everest Base Camp Challenge and I have recently completed their 33km Virtual Inca Trail Challenge. The Pacer challenges accept numerous forms of exercise which is helpful for those who prefer not to run or walk.
Overall, it has been quite a journey physically and mentally during these few months. I have increased my wellbeing, body positivity, mobility, I am eating more healthy foods, my confidence has gone up massively and I am proud of myself for how far I have come. I have loved giving to charity, and it has made me grateful and helped me recognise the importance of these services that are helping people. I hope that this blog has inspired you to keep active and raise money for those in need!