Exploring the Health-Promoting Potential of the "parkrun" Phenomenon: What Factors are Associated With Higher Levels of Participation?

Am J Health Promot. 2019 Jan;33(1):13-23. doi: 10.1177/0890117118770106. Epub 2018 Apr 23.


Purpose: " parkrun" is a free and increasingly popular weekly 5-km walk/run international community event, representing a novel setting for physical activity (PA) promotion. However, little is known about who participates or why. This study aimed to identify sociodemographic, health, behavioral, individual, social, and environmental factors associated with higher levels of participation.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Tasmania, Australia; June 2016.

Participants: Three hundred seventy two adult parkrun participants.

Measures: Online survey measuring sociodemographic, health, individual, social and environmental factors, parkrun participation, and PA.

Analysis: Descriptive statistics, zero-truncated Poisson regression models.

Results: Respondents (n = 371) were more commonly women (58%), aged 35 to 53 years (54%), and occasional or nonwalkers/runners (53%) at registration. A total of 44% had overweight/obesity. Half had non-adult children, most spoke English at home, and 7% reported PA-limiting illness/injury/disability. Average run/walk time was 30.2 ± 7.4 minutes. Compared to regular walkers/runners at registration, nonwalkers/runners were less commonly partnered, more commonly had overweight/obesity, less physically active, and had poorer self-rated health. Multivariate analyses revealed relative parkrun participation was inversely associated with education level and positively associated with interstate parkrun participation, perceived social benefits, self-efficacy for parkrun, and intentions to participate.

Conclusion: parkrun attracts nonwalkers/runners and population groups hard to engage in physical activity. Individual- and social-level factors were associated with higher relative parkrun participation. parkrun's scalability, accessibility, and wide appeal confers a research imperative to investigate its potential for public health gain.

Keywords: behavior; body weight; body weights and measures; epidemiologic methods; epidemiologic studies; exercise; health; health promotion; life style.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation / methods*
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Running* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking / psychology