An independent survey commissioned by UK-based charity parkrun has shown that parkrun really does make people healthier and happier, and not just from running or walking.

The survey showed that more people who volunteer at parkrun feel an improved sense of happiness compared to those who just walk or run.

parkrun is the world’s biggest physical activity movement, and the research was commissioned to quantify the health and wellbeing benefits of participating in the free, weekly, timed 5k events.

Conducted independently by Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre the survey generated over 60,000 response and 11 million answers to 47 questions.

After participating at parkrun;

  • 91% of all respondents reported a sense of personal achievement
  • 89% reported improvements to their fitness
  • 85% reported improvements to their physical health
  • 69% reported improvements to their mental health
  • 79% reported improvements to their happiness

Those who also volunteer reported an 84% improvement to their happiness, compared to 79% for all respondents.

This supports parkrun’s long-held belief that volunteering improves health and wellbeing equally as much as walking or running.

Improvements from parkrunners who identified themselves as previously inactive upon registration for parkrun were also greater – with 81% reporting improvements to their happiness compared to 79% for all respondents.

Global Head of Health and Wellbeing, 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.”

parkrun is a UK based charity supporting in excess of 350,000 people to take part in free, socially-focused, 5k events every weekend in public areas of open space.

There are currently 15 free weekly parkruns and a further five Great Run Local events across Suffolk. Full details can be found at www.parkrun.org.uk and www.greatrunlocal.org.

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