Nick Hudson’s story is enough to inspire anyone to prioritise their wellbeing and raise awareness for mental health.
In 2018, Hudson fell into a depression leading up to his open heart surgery.
“This was the real deal, where they cut your chest open and change out some bits,” he says. “It hit me pretty hard and I withdrew from those around me.”
Although the operation was successful, Hudson says the recovery was a mess.
“Despite the efforts of family and friends, I couldn’t drag myself out of my depressed mental state,” he says.
So Hudson focused on putting his heart and soul into growing The Push-Up Challenge, which began as a challenge between four friends in 2016.
“With nothing to do but lie in bed and rest, I armed myself with a laptop and phone and brought a team together to help make the challenge bigger and better,” Hudson says. “We developed a website and tracker, did some pretty heavy promotion, and before long (insert montage of working tirelessly) we had almost 50,000 people who joined us to push for better mental health around Australia.
“In 2019, we raised $2.5m for mental health and participants completed over 50 million push-ups as part of the event. With a population of 25 million, I like to think we improved the average health of Australians by two push-ups each.”
The event has raised more than $26m and engaged more than 300,000 people since its inception in 2016.
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
One in five Aussie adults experience a mental disorder each year. This equates to 4.2 million Australians living with a mental disorder, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Meanwhile, suicide continues to be the leading cause of death for young Australians.
“We continue to lose more than six men to suicide every single day in Australia, with men accounting for three out of four national suicides,” says Rachel Carr, APAC country director at Movember.
“We know that a lot of those men are looking for support. In fact, up to 50 per cent of the men who die by suicide have been in contact with a mental health service prior to their death.
“Sadly, they often slip through the cracks because we don’t have targeted mental health and suicide prevention programs to adequately assist them.”
Carr says the funds raised will help Movember deliver lifesaving early intervention and prevention programs like Men in Mind, an online professional training program that aims to upskill therapists and help them engage men in therapy more effectively.
“It gives therapists tools and strategies to identify and respond to depression and suicidality in men,” she says.
SO HOW DOES IT WORK?
Australians are encouraged to complete 3144 pushups over 23 days in June, putting a spotlight on the number of lives lost to suicide in 2021.
The aim is to support the health of participants through exercise and connection, raise mental health awareness and contribute to early intervention and prevention for depression, anxiety and suicide.
Funds go to Lifeline, Movember and Push for Better Foundation.
“It’s likely everyone will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives, so by pushing up and learning about mental health, we hope to break down the stigma attached to mental illness so that Australians don’t think twice about reaching out for help.”
REAP THE BENEFITS
Brent Nicol, health and exercise integration expert at Exercise & Sports Science Australia, says push-ups are a “popular and effective exercise that can provide numerous health benefits”. These include:
• Strengthening upper-body muscles, including the chest, shoulders and triceps;
• Building core strength and stability;
• Improving posture and balance;
• Enhancing cardiovascular health and endurance;
• Reducing the risk of injury, particularly in the upper body;
• Increasing bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis;
• Enhancing mood and reducing stress levels; and
• Improving overall functional fitness and quality of life.
The event is free to take part in and runs from June 1-23. For more information and to register, visit thepushupchallenge.com.au
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