The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Led to a Running Boom
Posted: Jun 02, 2021
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences not only economically but also with mental health issues. It has forced people to become more resourceful and take steps to look after those around them and themselves. One positive outcome of the pandemic is the number of people that have taken up running as a means of fitness and to help mental well-being. Recently, a number of running shoe companies have been reporting about their increased sales during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
On Global Running Day, 2nd June 2021, World Athletics put out a press release confirming that increase in popularity of running. They commissioned a report from Nielsen’s. The survey was conducted in 10 different countries. They found that an increasing number of people have taken up running during the COVID-19 pandemic, and all of those intend to maintain their running and the passion for it when the pandemic is over. They highlighted how runners have increased their participation and the number of health benefits that they gain from it. They found that now 4 in 10 people consider themselves to be runners and 30 per cent of those run at least one day a week. Of all runners, 53% are men and 47% are women. This split is different to what is found in a lot of other sports. They also found that more than a fifth of all runners run more often than they did previously as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns and most in that group say they will continue to run more often once the pandemic is over.
There are many benefits of running which are both physical and mental. One experience is what is known as the ‘runner’s high’. This has been described as beginning with a "peace of mind and then a greater ease of movement, a sense of power and confidence, optimism and hope, and you will often hear runners describe feeling loving and connected to everyone and everything". The results of the survey reflects this ‘runners high’ experience, with three quarters of all runners agreeing that running is ‘good for my mind as well as my body’. Those who were aged 25-34 are most likely to be passionate about their running, with 50 per cent agreeing that it is a part of who they are. Runners are more likely to consider themselves to be more warm and friendly, more family oriented, optimistic and passionate, showing greater confidence to associate themselves with positive personality characteristics than those who are not runners. This supports the significant mental health benefits of running.
For those who are current runners, one of the biggest factors in the decision to run are health reasons and also the ability to go at your own pace and not needing much equipment. This makes running a lot easier to participate in with the only necessary piece of equipment being a good pair of running shoes, though a lot of runners do spend money on GPS trackers and other pieces of equipment.
Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.