Running on a High

Running on a High

parkrun and personal well-being

Posted on 03.08.2017

Sporting or physical recreation event participation can affect different domains of mental and social well-being if sufficiently frequent, yet previous research has focused mainly on the physical health benefits of single-location or infrequent mass-participation events. We examined overall and domain specific subjective well-being of adult participants of “parkrun”, a weekly, community-based, highly accessible and widespread running event.

Methods

Data were from a national online survey of 865 adult Australian parkrunners. Scores on nine individual measures and the global Personal Well-being Index (PWI) were compared to national, normative data. Regression models tested associations between personal well-being and perceived benefits of parkrun (mental health and connection to community).

Results

Of 100 scores, 28% of means for parkrunners fell outside overall and age and gender subgroups normative ranges. Satisfaction with health was higher for male, those aged over 45 and overall parkrunners; only parkrunners aged 18–24 fell below their age group norm. Satisfaction with life as a whole was positively associated with perceived mental health benefits of parkrun, but not perceived community connection for women, and neither measure for men. PWI was positively associated with perceived community connection for men and with mental health benefit for women.

Conclusions

Australian parkrunners mostly reflect the general population on personal well-being, except report superior satisfaction with physical health. Women’s personal well-being may benefit from parkrun through improved mental health and men’s from community connectedness. parkrun may facilitate positive expression of identity and continuation of healthy habits among athletes, and non-demanding, health enhancing activity and social interaction for non-athletes.

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