Running makes you a happier person, new research confirms

In a new study by scientists at Glasgow Caledonian University, more than 8000 runners registered with Parkrun and Strava were quizzed on aspects of health and wellbeing. The study was looking at the effect regular running had on wellbeing, using the Oxford Happiness Scale.

The runners survey scored 4.4 on the Oxford Happiness Scale, which is above the average score of 4 for the general population. 89% of runners said that running regularly made them happier, as well as having a positive impact on their mental health and body image.

Yet scientists also found the sense of community runners feel, both in attending social Parkruns, and sharing their achievements on apps such as Strava also comes into it. 83% of runners quizzed found that using the app made them feel more motivated, whilst 53% said attending regular Parkruns had a positive impact on their social life.

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Dr Emmaunuelle Tulle, reader in Sociology at Glasgow Caledonian University said: “Running gives you a feeling you have achieved something and a sense of tremendous satisfaction. It adds to a general sense of wellbeing, you feel good and it helps boost your self-confidence.

“The combination of attending Parkrun and being able to track your progress on Strava makes runners feel as if they are not on their own, it enables them to see the point of running. They are much more likely to maintain regular exercise as a result and reap the benefits.

“There is a combination of competitiveness and togetherness, which is extremely beneficial.”

Gareth Mills, UK country manager for Strava said of the study: “Having data to prove that running makes you happier, and being part of the Strava and Parkrun communities boosts your motivation, is fantastic news. We know running is good for us physically, here we see the psychological benefits that being part of an active community can bring.”

Related: Not being able to exercise increases risk of depression in just two days 

Earlier this year, we reported on further new research by University of Adelaide that found the impact of ceasing exercise on participant’s mental health was seen almost immediately. In fact, researchers recognised depressive symptoms in some of the participants after just three days. This research proves just how much taking time off due to an injury can affect a runners mental health.