Oxford University research has revealed that socialising with others can help boost running performance.
Researchers at Oxford and the University of Limerick looked at participants taking part in free, weekly, community-based 5km parkruns. Parkrun began in London but now takes place in over 2,000 locations worldwide.
The research team found that the social element of parkruns has significant benefits. Their findings are published in peer-reviewed scientific journal, PLOS ONE.
The research involved a longitudinal study of 143 parkrun participants, the aim of which is to ‘promote physical activity and community spirit, by providing supportive opportunities to exercise’.
Dr Emma Cohen, Associate Professor in Cognitive Anthropology in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, said that the team was “interested specifically in how the socially supportive and rewarding environment at parkrun affected participants’ exercise experiences and performance”.
“Over several weeks, study participants received a survey link immediately after they completed a parkrun,” explained Dr Cohen. “The survey asked participants questions about who they attended the event with, their social interactions before the event, and feelings of support and belonging in the parkrun community.”
“Participants were also asked about their run experiences – how much they enjoyed themselves during their run, how difficult the run was, and how energised they felt. We then linked these survey responses to participants’ run times, which are published on the parkrun website,” she said.