Sheffield Hallam to survey three million parkrunners about their health and wellbeing

Sheffield Hallam University is to undertake a major study with parkrun about the impact of parkrun participation on participants’ health and wellbeing.

More than three million people in the UK and Ireland have been invited to take part in the largest ever survey analysing the impact of parkrun participation on health and wellbeing.

The research will be conducted by the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) at Sheffield Hallam University and involve those aged 16 and over who are registered with parkrun in the UK and Ireland, two thirds of whom have taken part as walkers, runners and volunteers.

The digital survey, which will be sent out today by email and includes an online link to the questions, is designed to measure parkrun’s progress against its stated mission of making the world healthier and happier.

In particular, parkrunners will be asked about their activity levels, quality of life, mental health, disability status and the social relationships they’ve gained from being part of the movement.

Dr Alice Bullas, who is leading the research at SHU, said: “We expect around a quarter of a million surveys to be returned by people from really diverse communities. This will give us about 15 million pieces of information in order to provide an in-depth study of the impact of parkrun on people’s health and happiness.”

Chrissie Wellington, global head of health and wellbeing at parkrun, said: “People tell us every day about how parkrun has changed their lives. However, it is important that these anecdotes are also supported by credible, rigorous research.”

“This ground-breaking project will help build detailed insight into the impact we are having, and inform future work to ensure we can continue to improve the health and happiness of people and communities. Our ambition is to make this an annual survey, which can be expanded to include other countries that host parkrun events.”

An initial report of the findings is due to be delivered to parkrun in December, and then publish by parkrun soon after.

New runners who register with parkrun in the next four weeks will be able to complete the survey, too. They will be surveyed again in March 2019 so the team can analyse the impact taking part in the run for just a few months has had on their health and wellbeing.

It is hoped the survey will be repeated next November, and could eventually be rolled out worldwide.

The parkrun Research Board (https://awrcparkrunresearch.wordpress.com) is ran on behalf of parkrun by the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University and chaired by Professor Steve Haake.

Sheffield Hallam University has ambitious plans to become the world’s leading applied university. The university specialises in healthcare research and its practitioners, scientists, engineers and designers regularly collaborate to create innovative solutions to global health challenges.