A recent research paper published in the academic journal Psychology, Health and Medicine has highlighted the wide-ranging benefits of parkrun for those living with a mental health condition. The impacts were found to be greatest for those who walk or run, as well as volunteer.
A team of researchers undertook a detailed analysis of the data generated by the parkrun Health and Wellbeing Survey undertaken in the UK in 2018.
Specifically, the researchers analysed the type of parkrun participation, health and wellbeing impact and perceived social inclusion of those people who reported living with a mental health condition. The survey respondents were divided into two groups – those who walked/ran and those who walked, ran and volunteered at parkrun events.
The findings suggest the health, wellbeing and social impacts of parkrun were different between these two groups. In particular, those who run/walk and volunteer were more likely to say that parkrun made them feel part of a community and facilitated them meeting new people, than those who walk/run.
Those who run/walk and volunteer also reported interacting with more people each week (both known and previously unknown individuals), compared to runners/walkers.
It is clear that participation in parkrun has wide ranging benefits, but that they might be greatest for those who walk or run as well as volunteer, especially if people are living with a mental health condition.
The findings should be of interest to anyone working in public health, especially those interested in social prescribing and finding low cost, accessible opportunities for people to forge social connections, develop friendships and reduce isolation. There is also a strong rationale for patients to be signposted towards volunteering opportunities at parkrun, as well as walking or running at those events.
The full article can be found here.
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