Published: 19 July 2021. Written by: Jonathan Kibble, Vitality PT and Head of Exercise & Physical Activity.
With the UK experiencing ‘Freedom Day’ as we pass through the final stages of lockdown restrictions lifting, it feels like an appropriate time to start your health and fitness journey surrounded by likeminded individuals. You’ve heard the saying ‘strength in numbers’, but why is it worthwhile running with others? Let’s take a look at the benefits of community running.
1. Motivation & commitment
It’s far too easy to come up with excuses to give one of your runs a miss…’I’m too tired’, ‘I had a busy day’, ‘It’s raining’, ‘I’ll rest and come back stronger tomorrow’. Having a group or friend that’s expecting you to show up will help keep you accountable when those excuses start to show up. We rarely regret exercising once we’ve done it, but it’s the getting those trainers on and stepping outside that’s often the hardest step (pun intended). The community aspect of joining others encourages you to get out the door with like-minded people and not miss a session.
2. Boost your mood
We’ve all heard that endorphins are released during and after exercise, that’s why it makes us feel so great! But did you know that research also shows exercising with others can help you to feel more calm post exercise too? Research has demonstrated that we feel more tired after exercising with others, possibly due to an element of competition and therefore, it is likely we are working harder. There’s no better feeling after a run than knowing you’ve given it your all, right?! Furthermore, another study showed that exercising with others as opposed to doing it alone produced greater benefits in all round mental health too!
3. Building the habit
Habits take time to build. One of the best ways to start building your running habit is to have a structured plan as to when you’re going to train rather than just running when you feel like it. Running with a friend, or group, is a great way to proactively plan your running. Groups will often meet on certain days to run. For example, parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am in the UK. What better way to start building a new habit than to commit to joining a club, group, or friend on a run.
4. Push yourself
Hitting a new PB is something the majority of us will strive for once we’ve caught the running bug. Completing a 5k or 10k PB on your own can be pretty tough and requires incredible effort and determination. If you’ve ever run at an event such as the Vitality 10k, you’ll have experienced that running alongside and around others has a huge impact on your own motivation, and therefore likelihood of performing well. Research has shown that working alongside and/or with others increases our levels of motivation and as a result, how long and hard we exercise for.
5. Build bonds
Running as part of a group or with a friend means you sweat, struggle, and grind through it as one. When groups go through adversity together, strong bonds are made. There’s no better way to meet new people and build new connections than to collectively tackle something. Hitting the hills with others means you’ll also experience support, having to help motivate others, and share wins together. All of these are great experiences that help us thrive day to day.
Fancy reaping some of the benefits mentioned above? parkrun is back! Your weekly Saturday 5k, suitable whatever your level of fitness. Join a group of motivated runners all looking to get happier and healthier together! Find out more on the parkrun website: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/.
Interested in joining parkrun but not quite sure how you’ll get out of bed for an early running start? We have 7 science-backed rules to help you become a better runner!