Supercharge your motivation with a charity event

Nothing motivates quite like a deadline. That’s why signing up for an event such as a fun walk or run can help kick-start your family’s fitness routine.

How much of a difference can it make? One study found that when people ran in an organized race, their self-esteem, feelings of well-being and life satisfaction all went up. And it boosted their motivation to keep running.1

When the event is tied to a cause (such as a charity), it can take things to another level. Maybe your family is really into animals, or you like to support cancer research. Whatever it is, tap into that passion. That way, you’re not only getting exercise — you’re also helping to make a difference in the world.

If this is something you think your family would like to do, check out these tips before you sign up for your first event.

Consider a local event

The biggest allure of nearby events and races is the convenience factor. You can drive (or even walk) to the event, and finding somewhere to stay isn’t an issue. That makes it much more affordable. And it’s easier to get your local friends and family involved.

Convenience also provides another benefit: It gives you a chance to sign up for as many events as your family wants. Many local community calendars are full of events, especially in the spring, summer and fall, but also around the holidays. If you find your family really enjoys these events, you can sign up for more and make it a family tradition.

To find a race near you, just search online for “fun run/walks near me.” Ask friends for their recommendations, too. If your kids are uncertain about whether they want to do it, talk to them about inviting their friends to do the race, too. It may be enough to motivate them to participate.

Plan a family vacation around a run/walk

If your kids have been begging for a trip to an amusement park or the Grand Canyon, and you’ve got the means, consider planning it around a race. Many destinations offer family-oriented races, which often have lower-mileage fun runs/walks for younger kids.

If you’re heading somewhere with a much higher elevation than you’re used to, you might want to arrive a few days earlier to give your family some time to acclimate.

Be sure you have the right gear

A good-fitting pair of sneakers is essential — for kids and adults alike. Do a family fit check before starting training. If anyone’s sneakers are too tight, blisters can develop.2

Give yourself plenty of time to train

Any race — even a fun one-miler — takes preparation. Be sure you build in time to train. This can be as simple as doing a regular run/walk with your kids in a local park. Or you can set a timer and run or walk for a certain amount of time regularly during the week.

How long your family will need to train depends on the event and everyone’s fitness and ability level. But whatever you decide to do, the right preparation will better motivate everyone for race day — and lower the risk of injury.

Agree on an event-day plan

Be sure to get everyone’s thoughts on the race before the day of the event. Some family members may be more competitive or have very different fitness levels. Letting each person share their thoughts — and run their own race, if they want — may help make the event more enjoyable for everyone.

That said, if the whole family is okay with moving at a pace that’s comfortable for everyone else, running or walking through the finish line together can be an amazing moment.

Having a goal may be the motivator your family needs to get moving. You’ll build family memories while you train together — and have even more to share after you’ve finished the race.

This article is part of UnitedHealthcare’s 6-Day Family Fitness Challenge. Being active — at every age and stage — is key to overall health. And getting the whole family involved makes it more fun and sets good habits early on. We’re helping families get moving, and we encourage every member of the household to join.

Ready to check out the rest of the Family Fitness Challenge? Read more:

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