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One of the best ways to get fit this year is to set yourself a fitness challenge like running a half marathon or joining a cycling race with a charity like Heart Research UK.

Everyone is under pressure to make a fresh start in January. Even if we don’t proclaim our new year resolutions to our family and friends, we’ve likely made a few promises to ourselves in secret.

We say we really need to eat better (no more ordering McDonald’s to the house), exercise more (just get off the couch every once in a while) and call the grandparents to say ‘hi’ as much as we can (actually do this one).

Some of these resolutions will help you finally become a functioning adult (see above). Others can be tougher and more important. Sadly, most of us will give up on these personal targets and goals early on in the year. Life just gets in the way.

And, if we’re honest with ourselves, being a little hungover gets in the way of being a productive human being a lot of the time, too.

But one brilliant way to ensure you stay committed is to sign up for a fitness challenge. Yes, we recommend you try being one of those people who keeps talking about how much they are training for a marathon while they’re out for brunch with mates.

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Join like-minded people in one of London’s many organised running races

Signing up for a race or organised challenge will give you a goal to aim for, people to support and sponsor you, and the chance to enjoy a new experience in life while improving your health.

And if you sign up to one of Heart Research UK’s massive events then you’ll also be raising money to help pioneering medical research – it’s a win for everyone. The charity has a whole host of challenges for 2019 that focus on improving mental and physical health.

Join the iconic Great North Run, adrenaline-packed skydives, or even intrepid global challenges such as trekking the mighty Great Wall of China or cycling from London to Paris. But the London Marathon has to be the biggest draw for City folk.

Go it alone or sign up with a charity and run as part of a group. Entrants will be able to train with fellow participants and raise money for a cause they really care about.

Leon Ancliffe, who took on the London Marathon for Heart Research UK, said: “Signing up is the first step. I couldn’t run around the common when I decided to do the marathon for Heart Research UK, but boy did I get fit in the process.

“When I crossed the finish line in under five hours, I couldn’t believe it – it was the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Closer to home, take on the My Run, My Way challenge, perfect for people who want to complete a running challenge on their own terms. Take on your own 5k, 10k, half or full marathon and do it your way.

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You can always jump on a bike and into the saddle if running isn’t your thing

If you’re not a runner then have no fear, simply give swimming a go instead. The Swim the Channel challenge allows Aqua Men and Women to conquer the English Channel, all from the comfort of their local swimming pool.

These challenges are perfect for people of all ages and abilities and can be completed wherever and whenever it suits.

Participants can even keep it to themselves, only revealing accomplishments once completed – a great way to take away any pressure. To get involved with a Heart Research UK Healthy Heart Challenge, get in touch with the fundraising team and they’ll help you get started.

The complicated cocktail of feeling good for improving your own health while supporting a good cause pairs strangely well with the guilt associated with possibly having to bail on a charity. It all helps you keep your new year resolutions for 2019.

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