Running makes us fitter but also benefits our mental health

It is well known that regular exercise is good for you, reduces your risk of a large number of diseases, improves sleep quality and boosts energy.

As well as its physical benefits, running and taking part in fun runs can also improve your mental health.

In a new study, parkrun participants self-scored as more content than the general population.

Fun runs are becoming more and more popular and research shows that going on a parkrun can make you happier.

Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world and was founded back in 2004.

In a new study by Glasgow Caledonian University, more than 8,000 people, 89 per cent said that participating in a parkrun has made them happier, with an overwhelmingly positive impact on their mental health. Happiness was measured using the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, in which participants self-score questions from 1 (unhappy) to 6 (extremely happy). Parkrun participants scored an average of 4.4, compared to the general population, whose score was an average of 4.

The study also found that while social media can often be a source of anxiety and have a negative impact on self-esteem, those using the athlete’s social network Strava said that they were 83 per cent more motivated to exercise because of it.

Apart from the physical effects of regular exercise on the body, it is clear that one of the reasons taking part in a parkrun has such a positive impact is its sense of community.

A 2017 survey showed that GPs, nurses and physiotherapists now even “prescribe” parkruns to their patients. Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who created parkrun has said:

Belonging to such social and support networks, which show the joy that regular physical activity brings, can be a significant catalyst for it becoming a lifelong habit.”

Parkrun have recently released a video series in partnership with Vitality and Jessica Ennis-Hill, telling the stories of “Parkrun heroes”, some of whom have used Parkruns to benefit their own mental health.

Below is the story Jo Eccles who suffers from anxiety and depression. After a suggestion from a local GP Dr. Ollie Hart, she took up and started volunteering for Parkrun. It helped to give her more confidence and purpose in life.


Managing Director of Cignpost, Tim Dodd explained why Cignpost Health is a beneficial product for those suffering with mental health problems.

One of the key issues of stress and anxiety is acknowledging that there is a problem and speaking to a medical professional about it.

Cignpost Health can support with coping strategies and onward referrals to our GP service for more complex cases of stress and anxiety.”


Text References

Carter, K. Guardian. (2018). Parkrun makes us fitter, but can it make us happier as well? Accessed: Last Accessed: 30 April 2018.

Bowel Cancer UK. (2018). Six in ten adults not aware physical inactivity increases risk of bowel cancer. Accessed: Last Accessed: 30 April 2018.

Parkrun, (2018). Research reveals benefit of parkrun on mental health. Accessible: Last Accessed: 13 May 2019.