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Health and broader community benefit of parkrun – An exploratory qualitative study


Sharman, MJ and Nash, M and Cleland, V, Health and broader community benefit of parkrun - An exploratory qualitative study, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 30, (2) pp. 163-171. ISSN 1036-1073 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2018 Australian Health Promotion Association

DOI: doi:10.1002/hpja.182


Issue addressed: parkrun is a free, weekly, timed, international mass community 5‐km walk/run event. Unlike other paid events, parkrun attracts populations harder to engage in physical activity (PA) (eg, women, those with overweight/obesity or illness/injury/disability). This exploratory qualitative study investigated the individual, social and environmental factors associated with parkrun's broad appeal in Australia.

Methods: Tasmanian parkrunners who completed a quantitative survey (2016) were purposively recruited for a 2017 interview study. Semistructured interviews focused on reasons for parkrun participation. Data saturation was achieved by the tenth interview. Data were analysed thematically.

Results: Four themes emerged: (a) participation facilitators and barriers; (b) PA gain and broader community benefit; (c) social connections/networks; and (d) organisational issues. Appealing characteristics of parkrun included strong social support, performance gain opportunities, socialising, inclusivity (eg, all ages/abilities), sense of community, positive atmosphere and accessibility (eg, no cost and convenience). Some participants reported that parkrun had stimulated gains in their total PA (not always limited to walking/running) and that parkrun may also result in other community benefits (eg, supporting local businesses, fee‐based running club/event participation and "parkrun tourism"). Most participants first attended parkrun because of encouragement from their social networks, and participants subsequently encouraged others to attend. Participants found parkrun events well organised, but identified some potential threats (eg, local politics).

Conclusions: Social factors appeared critical in driving initial and ongoing parkrun participation. parkrun may lead to wider community benefits beyond that gained through increased individual PA. These findings highlight the "success factors" driving parkrun participation and provide insights for other community‐based PA promotion activities.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:parkrun, Tasmania, qualtitative, public health, Australia, exercise, obesity, chronic disease, health promotion
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Recreation, leisure and tourism geography
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Behaviour and health
UTAS Author:Sharman, MJ (Dr Melanie Sharman)
UTAS Author:Nash, M (Associate Professor Meredith Nash)
UTAS Author:Cleland, V (Associate Professor Verity Cleland)
ID Code:126823
Year Published:2019 (online first 2018)
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2018-06-26
Last Modified:2021-11-23

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