Research conducted by Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) has found that volunteering can have a bigger impact on health and wellbeing than just running or walking.
Commissioned by UK-based charity parkrun in celebration of their 15th anniversary on Saturday 5 October, the research found that participation in the weekly parkrun event does help people feel happier and healthier – and not just from running or walking.
91% of people surveyed reported a sense of personal achievement after participating in parkrun, where 84% of volunteers reported an improvement to their happiness.
The independent surveyed conducted independently by Sheffield Hallam’s AWRC was sent to all registered parkrunners over the age of 16 in October last year. Over 60,000 people responded with 11 million answers to 47 questions.
Parkrun is the world’s biggest physical activity movement.
Global head of health and wellbeing for parkrun, Chrissie Wellington, said: “The results of this extensive survey are extremely exciting. The findings validate our assumptions regarding the wide-ranging physical, emotional and social health benefits of parkrun.
It is clear that volunteering is an incredibly positive activity in its own right, with the greatest health and wellbeing gains being seen by the thousands of people who volunteer at parkrun.
People may be motivated by altruistic factors, but this research supports our belief that volunteering at parkrun benefits the individual in a range of ways, as well as the community they are part of.”
Professor of Sports Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University Steve Haake, who led the research undertaken by the AWRC, said: “parkrun is engaging with large numbers of people across the UK and the world. This is probably the largest survey of its kind, with more than 60,000 responses. Most of the responses detailed the impact of parkrun on the lives of those involved.
“It’s clear that parkrun is improving the physical and mental health of many people across the country through walking, running or volunteering.”