Facilitating Participation in Health-Enhancing Physical Activity: A Qualitative Study of parkrun
- First Online:
- 1.2k Downloads
Public health guidelines emphasise the value of vigorous intensity physical activity, but participation levels are low.
This study was aimed at identifying factors contributing to initial and sustained engagement in parkrun in the UK, to inform the design of community-based interventions promoting health-enhancing physical activity.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted by telephone with 48 adult participants of parkrun, a national network of weekly, free, volunteer-led, timed 5 km runs in public spaces. The framework approach was used for thematic analysis of transcripts.
Two overarching themes emerged: freedom and reciprocity. Freedom referred to the accessibility and inclusivity of events, both of which contributed to initial attendance and sustained involvement. Reciprocity related to the dual opportunity for personal gain and for helping others. Anticipation of fitness and health benefits were important for initial motivation. However, additional aspects motivating continued involvement included achievement of time or attendance goals, social cohesion, and contributing to the community.
Specific features of the parkrun experience encouraged participation including the accessible, inclusive ethos, achievement opportunities, and inherent social support, along with the outdoor natural settings, and integrated volunteer system. The inclusion of these elements in community-based interventions may increase success in initiating and maintaining health-enhancing physical activity.
KeywordsPhysical activity Exercise Community Well-being Qualitative research
- 2.World Health Organization. Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. Geneva: WHO; 2010.Google Scholar
- 3.Chief Medical Officers of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Start active, stay active: a report on physical activity for health from the four home countries’ Chief Medical Officers. London: Department of Health; 2011.Google Scholar
- 9.parkrun. http://www.parkrun.com. Accessed 9 March 2014.
- 10.Stevinson C, Hickson M. Exploring the public health potential of a mass community participation event. J Pub Health. 2014;36:268–74.Google Scholar
- 12.Ritchie J, Spencer L, O’Conner W. Carrying out qualitative analysis. In: Ritchie J, Lewis J, editors. Qualitative Research Practice. London: Sage Publications; 2007.Google Scholar
- 18.Kendzierski D, Furr RM, Schiavoni J. Physical activity self-definitions: correlates and perceived criteria. J Sport Exer Psychol. 1998;20:176–93.Google Scholar
- 19.Kendzierski D, Morganstein MS. Test, revision, and cross-validation of the physical activity self-definition model. J Sport Exer Psychol. 2009;31:484–504.Google Scholar
- 20.Bandura A. Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company; 1997.Google Scholar
- 25.Thompson-Coon J, Boddy K, Stein K, Whear R, Barton J, Depledge MH. Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environ Sci Technol. 2011;45:1761–72.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 33.Aked J, Marks N, Cordon C, Thompson S. Five Ways to Wellbeing. London: The New Economics Foundation; 2010.Google Scholar
- 34.Silverman D. Interpreting qualitative data. London: Sage Publications; 2006.Google Scholar