Running is good for the mind as well as the body – who knew?

Major study finds majority believe running good for emotional and mental well-being


Running’s positive impact on mental health has been demonstrated in the results of a year-long study – with running in a group found to be even better.

In the first major study of its kind, the body responsible for grassroots athletics in England, surveyed 13,200 people between September 2016 and August 2017 – with three in four saying they felt running was good for their emotional and mental well-being.

In an additional poll of England Athletics’ “RunTogether” programme, nine out of 10 respondents said their happiness had increased as a result of running with others.

England Athletics head of participation Matt Birkett said that “the physical benefits of running are well documented and easy to grasp but this survey shows there are mental and emotional benefits, too, which we think are very significant.

“What really comes across is the impact of running in a group – that’s where you get the accountability, or competition, and the social interaction. The feedback we get is that exercising together is a powerful tool for developing the habit of regular exercise. The evidence says if you run with people, you are more likely to continue.”

Birkett explained that running is enjoying its second wave of mass popularity, with the first coming 50 years ago and lasting until the early 1980s.

Running then was primarily done by “young, male professionals”, said Birkett.

Road running’s popularity, as a competitive sport, then “plateaued” in the 1990s and early 2000s before becoming fashionable again but this time as more of a leisure activity. Almost 20,000 people took part in the Dublin Marathon last weekend.

“It’s a complex market, in fact, it’s more of an ecosystem, and we are keen to support anything that encourages more people to try what is now recognised as a miracle cure,” said Birkett.

– PA