Social Processes and Well-being of Runners Within the UK During the COVID-19 Lockdown.
Other authors: Gozde Ozakinci & Fergus Neville
Abstract: Running and jogging with jog groups are a popular form of exercise. This study contributes to the Active Scotland Outcomes Framework, by investigating the impact jog groups have on a member’s physical confidence and how the well-being established via the group is potentially altered without the physical group present. During the COVID-19 lockdown of Spring 2020 physical participation in running groups was halted. This study explored the impact this cessation of running groups had on their members.
The aim of this study was to understand how running group members’ identities were associated with their motivation to remain active, mental well-being, happiness, life satisfaction, and anxiety during lockdown. Additionally, we investigated if there was a statistically significant change in daily step count and total running mileage from April 2019 to April 2020.
An online cross-sectional survey was completed by 602 participants, who identified as runners, in June 2020 who lived in the UK (55.3% located in Scotland) during the lockdown period. Participants were asked about relevant social identities (running group identity, runner identity and exercise identity), running motivation during lockdown, exercise routine, and current happiness, mental well-being and anxiety. We asked participants to report their average daily step count, and total running mileage for April 2019 and April 2020. Through a series of regressions, we saw which identity variable best predicted the outcome variables.
Exercise identity best predicted physical activity levels, while shared running group identity, predicted life satisfaction, happiness, and mental well-being. Exercise identity was positively associated with anxiety levels while shared running group identity was negatively associated with anxiety. Two paired t-tests showed there was a statistically significant difference in daily step count and total running mileage from April 2019 and April 2020. On average, participants decreased daily step count from April 2019, but increased total running mileage from April 2019. Despite the lack of physical group interaction, participants’ running mileage increased during the lockdown. Moreover, shared running group identification was positively associated with mental well-being and negatively with anxiety during lockdown.
This provides further evidence for the importance of social group memberships for mental health, including exercise settings.