The impact of parkrun on inactive populations in the UK


Physical inactivity is one of the most significant contributors to chronic disease and is a global public health priority. parkrun is a free, timed, weekly five-kilometre event that takes place in public spaces across the world with over 1 million people having completed a parkrun in the UK. This research analysed the demographics of those attending UK parkruns and showed that the number of parkrunners is growing by approximately 310k per year. parkrun attracts more women than men with a peak in numbers at age 11 and between 25 and 45, reflecting its attraction for families. Registrants were asked the number of times per week they had undertaken exercise for 30 minutes or more at moderate intensity in the previous four weeks (<1 to ≥4 times) with inactivity defined as achieving less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. Previously inactive parkrunners, ( <1 per week) represented up to 6.9% of the total and is growing at 0.46% per year. In contrast, the most active groups decreased in their proportion. People from all activity groups continued to complete parkruns five years after their first with the least active group completing more parkruns per year than the most active group. Data showed that there were 32,100 parkrunners in 2016 who identified themselves as inactive (<1 per week) at registration with 69,327 being borderline active (≈1 per week). This research suggests that parkrun has potential to reach and engage inactive communities in long-term physical activity. Its scalability and reach across the life-course confirms its potential as a public health intervention. Further research will explore the levels of activity of parkrunners outside parkrun, the impact of parkrun on activity, the barriers to participation, the impact on health, the effect of social deprivation on engagement, and parkrun’s economic value.

Keywords: physical activity, running, inactive populations, demographics
Academic units: Faculty of Health and Wellbeing (HWB) > Research Centres > Centre for Sports Engineering Research (CSER)
Faculty of Health and Wellbeing (HWB) > Research Centres > Centre for Sport and Exercise Science (CSES)
Funder NameGrant NumberFunder ID
Sheffield Hallam UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Copyright Holders: Sheffield Hallam University
Publisher of the data: SHU Research Data Archive (SHURDA)
Publication date: 31 May 2018
Data last accessed: 2 December 2021
Reason(s) for restriction and conditions for access: Waiting for confirmation for Parkrun I.P. for this data.





Actions (Log-in required)

View item View item