Fitness Travel #Goals: Charity Walks Are The Best New Way To See A City

The season of long weekends and the kind of weather that calls you outside (and keeps you there) is finally here. In between the weddings, cookouts, and family vacays, you've probably got lots going on, but may we make a suggestion?

Round out your summer calendar with one of the most life-changing activities you can do all season: a charity walk.

Why walk?

The steady rise of people participating in charity walks and similar for-a-cause physical challenges like runs and bikeathons isn't surprising. Charity walks have been around since the 1970s and today are one of the most popular and effective ways to build support for research around serious illnesses and those affected by them.

Talk about #goals.

Case in point: Experts believe we're on the verge of making huge strides in cancer treatment. Yet about 35% of respondents in a recent survey by the American Society of Clinical Oncology reported that they had to terminate skilled research staff as a result of limited funding. Events like the Susan G. Komen 3-Day are helping to fund research grants, innovate patient care, and bring us closer to the cures. Since its inception in 2003, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, a 60-mile walk, has raised over $848 million to support their mission to end breast cancer.

Kristi Egland, Ph.D., a career catalyst research grantee, put it this way: "We know a lot about breast cancer, but a lot is to be learned. Susan G. Komen® is providing us with funding to pursue research that is saving lives."

The wide-reaching benefits.

Charity walks—and their endurance-fundraiser cousins—are the ultimate win-win because they transform an activity that's individual in nature into an experience with a wide-reaching, positive effect on society and future generations. They enable folks to link their passion for fitness with a cause for the greater good (or perhaps for something more personal), making it possible for more people than ever to make an impact.

Need more convincing? Here are four reasons a fitness-focused charity fundraiser deserves a spot on your summer bucket list:

You'll get to know a new city in the coolest way. Think of the one city that's been on your must-visit list for a while: Chances are there's a charity walk or run in the area. These events—especially the endurance walks—are an instant tour of a new city, where you'll get to see the sights firsthand and close up while doing good at the same time. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, for instance, covers a challenging but equally awesome 60 miles over three days in seven cities—from Philly to Seattle to San Diego.

You'll reap the mental and physical health benefits of getting outside. An abundance of scientific studies continually confirm a strong link between good health and overall well-being and spending time outdoors. Dedicating time to being outdoors and in nature—with help from a charity walk or run—is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, especially while the weather's amenable.

You'll get all the fitness-specific training you need to accomplish your goal. No matter what your fitness level, signing up for a charity walk is pretty similar to getting your own personal trainer—and feeling like part of a team, too. Typically, your chosen charity will be on hand to offer support and training resources throughout the lead-up to the event. You may be able to meet with a local coach; train with other walkers, runners, or cyclists in your city; or attend motivational events in the area before the big day. It's why charity fundraisers are often a great entry into fitness for first-time walkers or runners who would never have attempted a similar event without the pull of doing something for the greater good.

You'll join a cause bigger than yourself. And, of course, the point of it all. When you walk in a charity event like the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, you're far from alone for the ride. From the moment you register, you'll be making an important impact and connecting with a community of walkers in your area who are passionate about making progress in breast cancer research and patient care. And you'll walk away with the enormously rewarding feeling of helping future generations, one step at a time.

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