A new study investigating running behaviours and mental health during lockdown including 14,000 people globally, reveals more people are running for mental benefits

43% of regular exercisers in the UK are exercising more now than they were before lockdown

82% of UK runners say running is helping to clear their mind and 78% say exercise is helping them feel more sane and in control

72% of runners want to keep running as much as they are now after the pandemic ends

ASICS Research into new runners

Amidst the confinement and isolation of lockdown, the UK has fallen in love with running – that is according to a new study[1] by ASICS. More importantly, the research shows nearly three quarters of UK runners plan to stick with their new exercise routine.

The study of 14,000 regular exercisers[2] across 12 countries, found that more than a third (36%) globally and 43% in the UK are exercising more now than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic began – despite most sports being brought to a standstill by social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, figures from fitness-tracking app, Runkeeper[3], show that runners of every level are clocking up more strides, more often. During April 2020, the app saw a 667% rise in registrations in the UK and a 105% increase in monthly active users compared to the same time last year. It also reported a 98% spike in the number of people in the UK heading out for a weekly run.

Running and feeling free

Yet the ASICS study also reveals that, for the majority of people, this activity surge is down to more than just physical health.

Two-thirds (67%) say exercise helps them cope mentally when faced with challenging situations like the one we are in now, while eight in ten (78%) runners say that being active is making them feel saner and more in control. A similar number (82%) say running is playing a key role in helping them clear their mind.

Linda van Aken, VP Running, ASICS EMEA says: “Despite the lockdown and social distancing measures, exercise and running in particular have become central to many people’s daily lives. Our study’s findings prove that a run is much more than just a run, especially in times of crisis. It’s a way for people to put aside the mental pressures and challenges of this pandemic and feel free.”

The first parkrun back might well be more crowded than usual as new runners take to the popular community event.

Keeping the mind healthy

Dr Brendon Stubbs, one of the world’s most influential exercise & mental health researchers, based at King’s College London says: “As one of the first multi-country studies, the results demonstrate that during lockdown, running has become a lifeline for many people to boost their physical and mental wellbeing.

These findings support previous evidence which has demonstrated that regular exercise is effective to prevent and treat mental health conditions.

Overall, the study by ASICS reinforces what we instinctively know: physical activity makes us feel better and never has there been a more important time to become active and experience the mental health benefits from movement.’’

Running past COVID-19

Furthermore, runners across the board are keen to keep their active habits going when this crisis is over.

Nearly three-quarters of UK runners (72%) say they want to continue running as much as they are now after the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, while six in ten (61%) people who exercise regularly are determined to hang on to the important role sport and movement is currently playing in their lives.

Perhaps most encouragingly, among those who only took up running after the COVID-19 crisis started, nearly two thirds (62%) globally say they plan on sticking with it in future.

Helping the world run to feel free

Linda van Aken adds: “80% of Brits told us they feel best when their mind and body are in balance – and never has that balance been more important than it is now.

ASICS was founded on the belief that movement can help anyone achieve a sound mind through a sound body. So, with our products, services, and events, we want to help runners of every level go further, perform better and protect themselves against injury – both during this pandemic and beyond.”

 ASICS’ goal is to support everyone to enjoy the mental freedom that running brings. Which is why ASICS aims to ensure every runner is running in the right shoe – for complete peace of mind. ASICS is encouraging all runners to find their perfect shoe.

Fast Running would like to add that this shoe may be found at a range of different brands and it’s important to find out what works best for you as an individual. Maybe check out ReRun Clothing for some preloved kit?

Get Involved

ASICS is encouraging people to share their post-run or post-workout picture on Instagram with how running or exercise makes them feel. People should use #RunToFeel and tag @ASICSEurope and a friend to do the same.

For more information follow #RunToFeel or visit asics.com/mk/run-to-feel

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