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Nielsen research reveals global running boom during COVID-19 pandemic

Nielsen research reveals global running boom during COVID-19 pandemic
June 4, 2021

Coinciding with Global Running Day this week, newly released research shows that more significant numbers of people around the world have taken up running during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that almost all of these new participants intend to maintain their newfound passion for the sport once the pandemic is over.

The power of running during this time has been revealed on Global Running Day (marked this year on Wednesday 2nd June) with new findings from Nielsen - the official research and intelligence supplier to World Athletics - highlighting how runners have increased their participation and the health benefits they gain from it.

Across 10 surveyed countries, four in 10 people consider themselves to be runners and 30% of those run at least once a week. Distinct from many other participation sports, recreational running has an equal participation split. Of all runners, 53% are men and 47% are women.

More than a fifth of all runners reveal that they run more often than they did previously as a result of COVID-19 and most in that group say they will continue to run more often once the pandemic is over.

Explaining that among the many benefits of running is the chance to experience the ‘runner’s high’, Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist, educator and author of The Joy of Movement, during a recent World Athletics 'Run Anywhere' Webinar in collaboration with Mass Participation World, stated “it begins with this peace of mind and then a greater ease of movement, a sense of power and confidence, optimism and hope, and you will often hear runners describe feeling loving and connected to everyone and everything.”

The survey reflects this, with three quarters of all runners agreeing that ‘running is good for my mind as well as my body’.

Those aged 25-34 years are most likely to be passionate about running, with 50% agreeing that it is a part of who they are. Runners are more likely to consider themselves to be warm and friendly, family oriented, optimistic and passionate, showing greater confidence to associate themselves with positive personality characteristics.

For current runners, the biggest factors in the decision to run are health reasons, the ability to go at your own pace and not needing much equipment. 

Recent research by also identified the growing popularity of running, supporting the findings of Nielsen's work.

Click here to view further findings in the World Athletics and Nielsen Sports 'Recreational running consumer research study'.

Main image courtesy of ASICS.

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