Parkrun, activity and health: The public health potential of parkrun
ISPAH ePoster Library. Stevinson C. Oct 15, 2018; 225120
Clare Stevinson
Clare Stevinson
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Abstract The public health potential of parkrun (free, weekly, 5km runs in public parks) was explored through three related studies. The first was a cross-sectional analysis of 7308 adult participants that examined participant characteristics and perceived outcomes of parkrun involvement. Results suggested that females, middle-aged and older adults, overweight individuals, and those with disabilities, were well represented in comparison with national physical activity statistics. Perceived benefits included fitness, confidence, health, weight balance, wellbeing, and sense of community, and were all associated with regularity of attendance. A nested qualitative study involving interviews with 48 participants explored the factors contributing towards initial and sustained engagement. Specific features of the parkrun experience that encouraged participation were the accessible, inclusive ethos, achievement opportunities, and inherent social support, along with the outdoor natural settings, and integrated volunteer system. Finally, a prospective study assessed change in self-reported physical activity, weight, and wellbeing outcomes in 354 new registrants over 12 months. Overall physical activity levels were high at baseline, but significantly increased over the first 6 months, before declining. Among those who were inactive at registration, there were marked and sustained increases in physical activity. Small significant reductions in body mass index were observed over 12 months, particularly among overweight and obese participants. Modest increases in happiness, and decreases in perceived stress were recorded, and run times suggested a 12% improvement in fitness. Collectively these findings strengthen the case for parkrun having meaningful public health benefit.
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