News - 1st September 2021

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of parkrun participants


parkrun Research Board study shows that parkrunner’s have felt the most negative impact on their connections with others, due to the pandemic, as well as a drop in participants physical activity levels.


Ahead of the peer reviewed paper, we share the results here.


Lockdown restrictions imposed across the UK in response to the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on many people’s behaviours, health and wellbeing. Even though people were encouraged to be active, UK population surveys suggested that some people found it easier than others.


We were interested in how the health, wellbeing and physical activity level of parkrun participants had changed between January 2019 (before the COVID-19 pandemic) and September 2020 (during the COVID-19 pandemic). We used a sample of 450 UK parkrun participants who had responded to two surveys; one before the COVID-19 pandemic (the parkrun Health and Wellbeing Survey 2018) and one during the pandemic (the parkrun insight survey on intent to return to parkrun).


We were looking for any changes in happiness, life satisfaction, connections with others, physical health, mental health and physical activity. We also explored differences by gender, age, deprivation status, physical activity and number of parkruns completed.


In the whole sample of parkrunners we saw physical activity levels drop by 6% while happiness and life satisfaction fell by 12% between pre-pandemic and during the pandemic. parkrunners experienced the worst negative impact on their connections with others. The pandemic was found to negatively affect a greater proportion of women, younger adults, those from more deprived neighbourhoods, those who were least active at parkrun registration and those who had completed fewer parkrun events in the previous 12 months.


What does this mean for parkrun? The return of parkrun events has the potential to bring people’s physical activity level, mental health, connections with others, happiness and life satisfaction back to pre-COVID-19 levels.


You can read the full pre-print paper here.



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