News - 25th September 2020

Impacting those hardest to reach

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Last year we published the results of an independent survey which highlighted the wide ranging health and wellbeing benefits of participating in parkrun.


The study also showed that eight out of ten of those who were inactive at registration went on to increase their activity outside of our Saturday morning events. Those who classified themselves as previously inactive also showed the greatest improvements to their health and life satisfaction.


Last year we published the results of an independent survey which highlighted the wide ranging health and wellbeing benefits of participating in parkrun, and not just from walking and running. The findings, from over 60,000 respondents, found that volunteering gives people the biggest bang for health and wellbeing buck.


This snapshot survey was part of a larger piece of work, undertaken by the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, which also included a longitudinal (or long term) study which looked at changes in health and wellbeing over time.


The longitudinal survey was sent to those who had just registered for parkrun, but had not yet participated. The respondents were then invited to complete a survey six months later having completed at least one parkrun.


Over 6,000 people responded to the first survey, with more than 560 of those completing the second survey after six months.


The main findings of the longitudinal survey largely mirrored those of the snapshot survey, indicating that people become more active following their registration with parkrun, both due to parkrun participation but also increased activity outside of the Saturday morning event.


parkrun is committed to increasing participation by those who are less active. Encouragingly, eight out of ten of those who were inactive at registration were found to have increased their activity over the six month period. Levels of health and life satisfaction were also found to have increased over the six month period, with previously inactive respondents showing the greatest improvements in health.


Over 80% of respondents highlighted an increased sense of personal achievement, improved fitness and physical health benefits, with 71% also reporting that they were happier due to walking or running at parkrun.


Encouraging mental health benefits were also mentioned, with 86% of those living in deprived areas citing improvements to mental health, as well as highlighting increased confidence.


Global Head of Health and Wellbeing, Chrissie Wellington, said “Attention is increasingly, and quite rightly, being paid to the need to address the underlying causes of ill-health, focusing on prevention as much as cure. The results of this extensive survey provide yet more empirical evidence about the incredible and very wide ranging benefits of parkrun on people’s mental and physical health, and its value as a public health intervention, especially for those who are less active”.


Professor Steve Haake, Principal Investigator and Chair of the parkrun Research Board, said “This longitudinal study of 567 respondents backs up our previous cross-sectional survey of over 60,000 parkrunners. Importantly, parkrun appears to impact those who are hardest to reach and those who will most benefit from physical activity, i.e. those who are inactive and from disadvantaged areas.”


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