Five years ago, Nick Hudson and a small group of mates decided to get back in shape for summer. The challenge was set – 3000 push ups in a month. No excuses.
“We kept tabs on each other via messages, some of which were motivating, but most were an excuse for some light banter,” he says.
“Over time, we noticed that we were not only getting fitter and stronger, but it became an easy way of staying in touch with each other.”
The Push-Up Challenge is now Australia’s largest mental health and fitness initiative, with over 174,000 Australians from all walks of life getting down on the floor.
It’s coming back for 2022, asking participants to do 3,139 push ups between 1 and 24 June to raise funds for one of three beneficiaries: Lifeline, Movember and Nick’s own charity, Push For Better.
The number of push ups represents the number of people who died by suicide in Australia in 2020.
In 2019, Nick went through a bout of depression before and after major open-heart surgery.
“Despite the efforts of family and friends, I couldn’t drag myself out of my depressed mental state,” he says.
“I needed a focus, so I put my heart and soul into making The Push-Up Challenge a bigger event that could make a difference.”
Lifeline provides all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services via phone, text and webchat. Around 50,000 Canberrans, more than 10 per cent of Canberrans, reach out to Lifeline every year. Record numbers contacted Lifeline during the two years of the pandemic.
Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie-Ann Leeson says around 500 Canberrans took part in 2021, raising more than $60,000.
“Our goal is to get 500 involved again this year,” she says.
“It’s pushing out the message that we have to take care of ourselves, especially following the pandemic. And at the same time, keeping that physical health maintained through the winter months.”
Carrie-Ann will be out every weekday of June with a different Canberra business doing push ups with their teams.
“Last year, we ended up on construction sites, doctor’s surgeries, and all sorts of other weird and wonderful locations, doing push ups and lunges with the teams,” she says.
“It got really creative by the end.”
Registrations are still open for individuals, workplaces, schools and community groups to join in as individuals or as a team.
Participants are invited to aim for 25, 50, 75 or 100 per cent of the 3,139 push-up target. This can be spread across the day, and alternatives such as sit-ups, squats, or other tailored excises are also welcome. (And yes, you can do the push ups on your knees.)
You will be able to track your progress with the dedicated ‘Push for Better’ app available on the App Store and Google Play Store.
Participants will also learn about mental health as the push-up target relates to a vital mental health statistic in Australia. For example, 135 push ups equate to the total number of minutes of exercise per week said to provide anti-depressant benefits to mental health.
“Not only are you raising money for suicide prevention here in Canberra, it’s also helping your own mental health,” Carrie-Ann says.
The Push-Up Challenge starts today so if you want to get involved, get online now.