A new study investigating running behaviours and mental health during lockdown including 14,000 people globally, reveals more people are running for mental benefits.
- More than a third of regular exercisers are exercising more now than they were before lockdown
- 81% of runners say running helps to clear their mind and 79% say exercise is currently helping them feel more sane and more in control
- 73% of runner want to keep running as much as they are now after the pandemic ends
[9 JUNE 2020] – Amidst the confinement and isolation of lockdown, the world has fallen in love with running – that is according to a new study by ASICS. More importantly, the research shows nearly three quarters of runners plan to stick with their new exercise routine,
The study of 14,000 regular exercisers across 12 countries, found that more than a third (36%) are more active exercising more now than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic began – despite most sports being brought to a standstill by social distancing measures.
Meanwhile, 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 252% rise in registrations globally and a 44% increase in monthly active users compared to the same time last year. It also reported a 62% spike globally in people heading out for a weekly run.
Running and feeling free
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 like the one we are in now, while eight in ten (78%) runners say that being active is making them feel saner and more in control. A similar number (81%) say running is playing a key role in helping them clear their mind.
Linda van Aken, VP Running, ASICS EMEA says: “Despite the lockdown and social distancing measures, exercise and running in particular have become central to many people’s daily lives. Our study’s findings prove that a run is much more than just a run, especially in times of crisis. It’s a way for people to put aside the mental pressures and challenges of this pandemic and feel free.”
Dr Brendon Stubbs, one of the world’s most influential exercise & mental health researchers, based at King’s College London says: “As one of the first multi-country studies, the results demonstrate that during lockdown, running has become a lifeline for many people to boost their physical and mental wellbeing. These findings support previous evidence which has demonstrated that regular exercise is effective to prevent and treat mental health conditions. Overall, the study by ASICS reinforces what we instinctively know: physical activity makes us feel better and never has there been a more important time to become active and experience the mental health benefits from movement.’’
Running past COVID-19
Furthermore, runners across the board are keen to keep their active habits going when this crisis is over. Nearly three-quarters of runners (73%) say they want to continue running as much as they are now after the Covid-19 pandemic comes to an end while seven in ten (70%) 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%) say they plan on sticking with it in future.
Helping the world run to feel free
Linda van Aken adds: Nine out of ten runners told us they feel best when their mind and body are in balance – and never has that balance been more important than it is now. ASICS was founded on the belief that movement can help anyone achieve a sound mind through a sound body. So, with our products, services, and events, we want to help runners of every level go further, perform better and protect themselves against injury – both during this pandemic and beyond.”
ASICS’ goal is to support everyone to enjoy the mental freedom that running brings. Which is why ASICS aims to ensure every runner is running in the right shoe – for complete peace of mind.
ASICS is encouraging people to share their post-run or post-workout picture on Instagram with how running or exercise makes them feel. People should use #RunToFeel and tag @ASICSME and a friend to do the same.
For more information follow #RunToFeel or visit asics.com/mk/run/run-to-feel
 People who exercise at least once a week.
3 Runkeeper User Trends | Running in the Era of COVID-19, May 2020.