Social identification, exercise participation, and positive exercise experiences: Evidence from parkrun

J Sports Sci. 2019 Jan;37(2):221-228. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2018.1489360. Epub 2018 Jun 18.


Growing evidence suggests that social identities may have profound implications for physical activity participation. Real-world examinations of this relationship have, however, been lacking, with research predominantly examining intentions and hypothetical scenarios. To address this shortcoming and further advance understanding in this area, the present study tested relationships between group identification, participation, two exercise-specific outcomes (exercise-specific satisfaction and group cohesion), and a broad health indicator (life satisfaction) among individuals recruited from parkrun. Participants (N = 289) completed questionnaires measuring all variables except participants' parkrun participation, which was objectively assessed. Structural equation modeling demonstrated that group identification was significantly associated with greater participation, exercise-specific satisfaction, group cohesion, and life satisfaction. Findings provide real-world evidence of the health-related benefits associated with forming strong social identities in exercise settings.

Keywords: Social identity; exercise; parkrun; structural equation modeling.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Latent Class Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Social Identification*
  • Young Adult