Motivation to Improve Mental Wellbeing via Community Physical Activity Initiatives and the Associated Impacts-A Cross-Sectional Survey of UK parkrun Participants

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Dec 11;18(24):13072. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182413072.


Participation in regular physical activity is a well-established strategy to support good mental wellbeing in adults with, and without, mental health conditions. The physical activity initiative parkrun is a free, weekly, timed, running and walking event which is attended by people from the local community of all abilities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the mental wellbeing of UK parkrun participants along with their motives for taking part and the impact of participation. Mental health conditions were self-reported in 2.5% of 60,000 respondents to an online survey of parkrunners, with the most prevalent being depression and anxiety. Those with mental health conditions were more motivated than those without to first participate in parkrun to manage their health conditions and improve their mental health. Those with mental health conditions were equally motivated to improve their physical health when compared to those without, and reported similar levels of improvement. Mental wellbeing scores for those with mental health conditions were close to the normal range, suggesting that engagement in parkrun may have had a role in limiting the effect of their illness. Community initiatives could replicate parkrun's model, and use the potential for both mental and physical health improvement, as well as health condition management, as a motivation for participation.

Keywords: mental health; mental wellbeing; parkrun; physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • United Kingdom
  • Walking