Today is Global Running Day 2020 – we expect you knew – and despite the global lockdown, running is one of the most popular outdoor activities. Runners of all abilities are taking on the streets and forest trails to improve their health and also (probably) to get away from it all. Search volume of the term 'best running shoes' has increased significantly in the last couple of months. But just how popular is running, and what is the reason why so many people are taking it up?
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Global running shoes and performance sportswear manufacturer ASICS has investigated how running behaviours have impacted Brits’ mental well-being during the COVID-19 lockdown period. The study of 14,000 regular exercisers 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."
Running is more than just physical activity
Figures from fitness-tracking app, Runkeeper (opens in new tab), 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.
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 (e.g. global pandemic)
- Eight in ten (78%) runners say that being active is making them feel saner and more in control
- 82% say running is playing a key role in helping them clear their mind
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Long term effects
It seems that many people 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.
• 5 reasons why you should start running and the best running gear you'll need
On Global Running Day, ASICS is inviting everyone to #RunToFeelFree. ASICS is encouraging people to share their post-run or post-workout picture on Instagram with how running or exercise helps them to feel free including #RunToFeelFree and tagging @ASICSEurope and a friend to do the same.