Articles, News - 8th September 2023

Overcoming loneliness: your journey to community, connection and wellness

Overcoming loneliness at parkrun

Loneliness can be formidable, affecting millions of people around the world. Its impact is not just emotional but can also have severe consequences for physical and mental health.


According to a recent survey carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in collaboration with the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, Ireland is the loneliest country in Europe. Loneliness can lead to disorders such as depression, alcohol abuse, sleep problems, personality disorders and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Institute of Public Health, the impact of isolation is emerging as a very serious public health issue.


While this news is not positive for Ireland, the good news is that if you are feeling lonely and reading this, you are not alone.


Furthermore, we have a solution which may work for you.


There is a place where you can find support, companionship and a renewed sense of purpose. In this article, we’ll explore how participating in parkrun can help you combat loneliness, give you a sense of belonging and enhance your overall wellbeing.


Overcoming loneliness inch beach


What is parkrun?

parkrun is a 5k event each Saturday for anyone aged 4 and up. However, while those under 11 are welcome, they must be accompanied by an adult on the course and be able to finish the distance themselves. junior parkrun is a 2k event which takes place each Sunday for those aged four and over. You can take part and register for a junior parkrun until the day before your 15th birthday. Find your local parkrun/ junior parkrun.


One of the key drivers to parkrun’s growth in 22 countries worldwide, is its super-inclusive spirit. You don’t need any special gear to get started and it doesn’t matter what age you are or how quickly you complete the course, the focus is on physical and mental wellbeing as we strive to create a healthier and happier planet.


Breaking the chains of isolation

Loneliness often thrives in isolation. It’s that feeling of being disconnected from the world, as if you’re an outsider looking in. Those at greatest risk have been people with underlying physical or mental health conditions, women, people living in urban areas, in single-person households and poorer people. “Not everyone who is lonely is socially isolated and not everyone who is socially isolated is lonely,” says Prof Roger O’Sullivan, Institute of Public Health.


parkrun offers a nice break from this isolation by providing a welcoming, inclusive community of individuals from all walks of life. It’s a place where you can be yourself, share stories and meet new friends.


“parkrun has helped me to stay active, which has been of particular importance since my diagnosis of arthritis and fibromyalgia. As well as the physical impact, of equal importance to me has been the impact on my mental health. To anyone struggling with loneliness, the camaraderie and friendship you get will mentally lighten your load and help with your overall health,” says Siobhan Sheridan, Griffeen parkrun.


Overcoming loneliness parkrun ireland


parkrun support

Loneliness can stem from a lack of emotional support. At parkrun, you’ll discover a network of people who genuinely care about your wellbeing. Whether it’s a friendly chat on the course or a smile as you volunteer, the encouragement you receive from fellow parkrunners can be a strong feeling with lasting positive effects.


“parkrun gets me out and about and involved with my friends and the wider community every week. It’s hard to believe looking back that, as of now, not only have I volunteered as a run director, but I’m also a co-event director at Griffeen parkrun. So much has changed for the better!”
Siobhan Sheridan


How to begin your parkrun journey

Starting your journey to overcome loneliness with parkrun is easy. Visit and see our interactive map to find a local event near you. Remember, there’s no pressure to be the fastest or most experienced, in fact, the first time you go to parkrun you will likely see a bigger deal made for first-timers


James Dowling, parkrun Ireland



Join parkrun

parkrun welcomes everyone to participate in walking, jogging, running, volunteering, or simply spectating. To become a part of the parkrun community, sign up here and discover your closest event.

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