Global Running Day 2020: It turns out running is helping the world’s mental health during Coronavirus

Forget lockdown obesity: survey for World Running Day shows activity has actually gone UP during lockdown

Global Running Day 2020 ASICS
(Image credit: Asics)

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."

(Image credit: Asics)

Running is more than just physical activity

Figures from fitness-tracking app, Runkeeper, 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

ASICS' research in numbers

(Image credit: ASICS)

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.

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Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.