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New 8k per Day Challenge promotes the benefits of running to improve mental health

As R U Ok? Nears on 14th of September 2023, Melbourne runner Darren Templeton is encouraging people to jump on board his new fundraiser, the 8K per Day Challenge.

With nearly $10,000 already donated, the inaugural 8K per Day Challenge was established to raise money for mental health services and to raise awareness about the high toll suicide takes on Australians.

On average 8.6 Australians die every day by suicide and six of these are male.

Suicide has touched Darren on a personal level, and home challenges pushed him to take up running as a way of dealing with a traumatic situation.

“I’ve been through the ringer in the last decade,” he says. “Running has been my saviour, to keep me sane and to keep going.”

The founder of Run for Mental Health Ltd, Darren is also the organiser of the hugely successful ‘Run the Tan,’ which takes place in April and promotes the positive impact running and exercise has on mental health and well-being.

The 8k per Per Day Challenge invites people to walk 8ks for 30-consecutive days between now and 30th November.

The distance equates to roughly 11,000 steps and can be split up across the day.

“We should all be doing 10,000 steps anyway,” says Darren.

As well as helping combat depression, running can also reduce the incidence of cancer, according to a new study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Drawing on data from more than one million Swedish males, the study tracked participants aged between 16 and 25 for an average of five years between 1968 and 2005. 

View: Associations between cardiorespiratory fitness in youth and the incidence of site-specific cancer in men: a cohort study with register linkage

The results linked good cardiorespiratory fitness – how long someone can maintain sustained aerobic exercises such as running, cycling and swimming – with a reduction in various cancers.

These included:

  • A 42% reduced risk of lung cancer
  • A 40% reduced risk of liver cancer
  • A 39% reduced risk of oesophageal cancer

Cardiorespiratory fitness was also associated with a lower risk of head and neck, stomach, pancreatic bowel and kidney cancer.

The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes a week. “It’s fine to build up activity over time and there are lots of ways to be more active. You don’t need to run a marathon or join a gym – anything that gets you warmer, slightly out of breath, and your heart beating faster counts," said Dr Claire Knight, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK.

“It doesn’t matter if you go for a brisk walk, a cycle with a friend, or even get the housework done, these could all count as ways to be active.”

According to the Australian National Health Survey, 70% of men don't meet the weekly guidelines for physical activity and 1 in 8 men don't do any weekly exercise.

The Australian Men’s Health Forum consistently promotes the benefits of exercise and has developed materials under its Know Your Man Facts men’s health toolkits.

Being physically inactive kills more men each year kills 10 Australian men a day, more than prostate cancer, suicide or road traffic accidents.

The Know Your Man Facts toolkit: Exercise + Men’s Health, acknowledges that some men are really good at staying fit, strong and healthy on their own.

They can also get active helping their mates and family stay fit. 

Take action for men’s health

Sign up to the 8k a Day Challenge

Read: 10 facts about exercise and men’s health (AMHF)

Download the Exercise + Men’s Health Toolkit (AMHF)





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