Fewer than half of American adults meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity, and only about 20 percent of Americans meet the guidelines for both aerobic exercise and strength training, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be hard to get motivated to exercise more, even knowing that exercise improves health and helps with weight loss. Working toward a set goal, like running a 5K race, can help provide this motivation.
Running a 5K race can help you get back in shape and lose some weight at the same time. The exact amount of calories burned during the race will depend on how much you weigh and how long it takes you to finish. Someone who weighs 150 pounds, for example, will burn about 350 calories if the race takes her 30 minutes or about 429 calories if it takes an hour. The extra calorie burn isn't the only potential health benefit of starting to run more often. Running has been found to help lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and obesity. It may even have mental health benefits, as this type of exercise helps to lift people's moods and improve their sleep quality.
Choosing the right 5K charity runs will also help you improve the lives of others. However, be aware that some races earn more money for the charity involved than others. In fact, in some cases, the only money that goes to the charity is that which the participants collect during their fundraising before the race. Check the details of the race to find out how much of the entry fees will go to charity and choose those that provide the most benefits. Even when the charity itself organizes the run, they tend to only make about $3.20 for every $1 they spend. Regardless, the money raised by either type of 5K charity runs isn't the only potential benefit of these races. The races also raise awareness and goodwill toward the charity and attract future donors.
Training too hard or doing too much too quickly can derail you and make it so you don't reach your goal of finishing the race. If you're not already an active runner, start out by walking most of your workout with brief intervals of running and gradually work your way up to running for 30 minutes. Keep at a pace that still allows you to talk but not to sing, and don't run every day. Every other day, you should rest or do some other type of exercise to give your body a break from running, such as yoga, biking, or swimming. This type of gradual buildup makes it less likely you'll give up or get injured and more likely you'll find yourself learning to love running.
Increasing the Fun Factor
Some people don't love running but can still have fun at a non-profit charity 5K run, like gotCUREage. Opt for a run that involves more than just running, such as a color run, a mud run or an obstacle course run. Obstacle course runs break up the running with different obstacles, offering more of a challenge while giving short breaks from the running part of the race. Don't be too hard on yourself if you can't run the whole race either, as many people who do these runs walk at least part of the way. Just set a goal to do even better on the next one.