The 5x50 Challenge is an inspirational success story which helps exercise become a habit!

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It costs just £5 to get involved — and you won’t just be getting fitter and healthier, you’ll also be adding to £260,000 that has been raised for charity to date.

The 5x50 Challenge has been an incredible success story — much to the surprise of the people who began it all.

When friends Ray Wallace and Kellie Mason decided to take on a challenge to run every day in January, they had no idea that it would lead to thousands following in their foosteps and so much being raised for good causes.

But that’s exactly what happened, much to the surprise of Ray and Kelly, who are now looking at the fifth year of the 5x50 challenge. It’s a simple premise and easy for anyone to get involved.

You simply commit to either 5km a day or 30 minutes of exercise for 50 consecutive days — but you set your own challenge.

When they first started, they were asking people to either walk, run or cycle but over the years it has become more and more inclusive in a bid to get everyone involved, no matter how fit or unfit they might be.

The 50 days of fitness can now be 5k of walking, running rowing, cycling or 30 minutes of any other exercise that takes your fancy.

The only must is that it has to be every day.

Why 50 days? Because after that amount of time, the exercise should have become a habit.

That’s certainly what Ray felt when he and Kelly first started out to help them train for a marathon. He said: “We aimed to run 5k every day in January.

“But half way through we had really begun to feel the benefits, so we decided to keep going and made it 50 days.

“We posted our results on social media as we went along, really just to keep us motivated but we suddenly realised lots of people were following our progress.

“When it finished, a lot of people contacted us, saying ‘are you going to do this again and can we join you?’

“We thought initially that two or three hundred people might get involved and it would be good to raise a wee bit for charity.

“But it was incredible the way it took off — the first year more than 5100 people signed up, covering 40 different countries.

“It really took us by surprise but we just seem to be getting better and better, year on year, helping more charities.”

They have also found that it has been a life-changing experience for many of those involved.

“The stories we hear from people who have taken part are amazing. We have people who join us year after year,” said Ray. “We have one guy who is just about to complete his 1000th consecutive day of exercise. It’s amazing!

“We now work with health boards and we have the support of the four chief medical officers in the UK.

“The NHS actually asked us if we could make it a bit easier for anyone to get involved, so we included any kind of activity, not just walking, running or cycling.”

The aim is to make people who are not active change their habits as well as give a goal to those who are already fit.

From the youngest in the family to gran and grandad, everyone is welcome to join in.

“We would really love to see more children getting involved,” said Ray. “We have one family who took the challenge together and they said it made them spend a lot more time together.

“Before that everyone was doing their own thing — kids playing XBox, mum and dad watching television, but this brought them together and they also started eating their meals together as a family at the table. It’s just great to hear stories like that!

“I didn’t want to make it expensive or difficult for people to join, so we kept it at £5 but it’s great that people do extra fundraising.”

The first three years of the challenge were for Sports Aid but last year they decided to help five charities — in keeping with their theme.

Said Ray: “Last year, we gave the charities £5,000 each from the entry money but lots of people do their own fundraising so lots more gets raised.”

This year’s charities are Riding for the Disabled, MIND, MS Society, Mind, Save the Children and the Junior Diabetes Fund.

Gillie Draper, of West and Central Scotland Riding for the Disabled, is hoping for a windfall that will help the local committee continue to organise vital training as well as competitions that are widely enjoyed by members.

She said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen as one of the charities.

“This will make a real difference to us.”

The 2016 challenge kicks off in March — the day after the clocks go forward but you can sign up for it now.

Participants track their progress on the website www.50x50.org.

There is even an opportunity for people to join others they’ve never met before if they are keen to take part and don’t want to do it on their own.

People can sign up on their own or as part of a team and the challenge can be completed in different ways.

Register today at http://www.5×50.org.