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Can parkrun make you happier?

PUBLISHED: 16:23 30 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:23 30 July 2018

Taking part in parkrun each week can make you happier. Picture: GREAT CORNARD PARKRUN FACEBOOK

Taking part in parkrun each week can make you happier. Picture: GREAT CORNARD PARKRUN FACEBOOK

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Studies have shown that taking part in your local parkrun has both physical and mental benefits.

Dogs as well as runners and walkers enjoy the beautiful weather over a 5K parkrun course. Picture: IPSWICH PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGEDogs as well as runners and walkers enjoy the beautiful weather over a 5K parkrun course. Picture: IPSWICH PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGE

It’s time to dust off your trainers and dig out your running kit, as a new survey has found that completing your community’s weekly parkrun can do wonders for your mood!

Every Saturday, in approximately 500 parks and open spaces across the UK, you’ll find thousands of people taking part in parkrun. And, according to a new study of 8,000 people conducted by Glasgow Caledonian University and Strava, an overwhelming majority (89%) of those running the free 5k run each week say it has made them happier.

Coordinated entirely by local volunteers, parkrun entices not only athletes and running enthusiasts, but is also much-loved by those who simply enjoy a social run as part of their weekly exercise. As well as making participants happier, the parkrun study also found that those joining in with the Saturday morning runs were more likely to exercise at other times of the week too. An incredible 80% of those surveyed said that their weekly habit motivated them to work out during week as well.

Illana Flora takes part in both the Ipswich and Chelmsford parkruns. She said: “I decided this year would be the year I tried to ‘get into’ running. I began with the Couch to 5k app but halfway into it I gave parkrun a go instead. I’ve only been doing it for two months but know I’ll continue.

Action from Ipswich's parkun at Chantry Park. Picture:  IPSWICH PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGEAction from Ipswich's parkun at Chantry Park. Picture: IPSWICH PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGE

“It’s a great way to kickstart my Saturday morning and if anything, I see parkrun as a reward at the end of the week! It can be a mental effort getting yourself to the gym when you’ve had a long day at work, but by the time parkrun comes around it feels like a fun, harmless way to spend time outside, running at your own pace and getting a guaranteed weekend workout in.

“I love how inclusive it is too - each week there are new faces amongst the regulars – and you’re surrounded by people who are looking after their hearts, minds and bodies. It’s really encouraging and motivating!”

The positive effects of parkrun aren’t just rubbing off on those in the UK though, as individuals across the globe seem to be getting the parkrun running bug. Colin Moore is from Castlemaine, near Melbourne, Australia. He says: “Although fairly new to the event (only 18 runs), I am already making a conscious effort not to miss a parkrun. There is a great feeling of companionship and friendship around the event. It is also a nice way to start the day and I always feel invigorated after the event.

“I have finally found an exercise regime I can relate to and get enjoyment out of and I know that I am making myself eat better and walk more throughout the week too, so that I am ready for my next run.”

The Junior Parkrun in Christchurch Park. Picture: PHIL MORLEYThe Junior Parkrun in Christchurch Park. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Mark Allen, from Churchill in Victoria, Australia, also agrees that it can make people happier and more sociable saying: “parkrun engages me with people who I know to say g’day to, and I get to know those people more meaningfully, as well as meeting new people. With recent retirement, I don’t want to fall into the trap of social isolation. Many of our group head off for breakfast and coffee together after every run too.”

If you’re interested in getting involved with parkrun – to hit a new PB, to feel more motivated with exercise, or to simply meet new people – visit the parkrun website to find your nearest event.

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