Trends & Features

Report reveals running improves mental health

Research published in the Running Report 2023/24 reveals that over two-fifths of runners (44%) say it has had a positive effect on symptoms of depression that they experience

With this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (13th to 19th May) focusing on the theme of “Movement: Moving more for our mental health” the running experts at have taken a closer look at exactly how much running can benefit people’s mental health.

The team surveyed over 2,100 people as part of their Running Report which uncovers the top trends across the running industry. The research revealed some interesting findings when it comes to the impact of the sport on our minds, with two in five runners saying that running has improved their symptoms of depression and one in three saying it’s reduced their panic attacks.

In addition, one in five runners (17%) say they lace up their trainers in order to facilitate spending more time in nature, an activity also proven to benefit mental health. In fact, mental health charity Mind says that spending time in nature can help you to be more active, which in turn leads to a multitude of mental and physical health benefits, including better memory and brain function and better heart health, all reinforcing the positive impacts that both running and spending time outdoors can have for our minds.

Evidently, a lot of the population is aware of this connection; 34% of people who take up running do so to reduce stress, which ranks as the top motivator alongside losing weight. This is closely followed by improving overall mental health (31%) and improving mood (30%).

Top five reason why people start running: 


Rank Reason for Starting Running Percentage of Runners That Agree
=1 To reduce my stress 34%
=1 To lose weight 34%
=2 To improve my overall mental health 31%
=2 To improve my cardiovascular fitness 31%
3 To improve my mood 30%
4 I enjoy running 25%
5 To help build good habits 18%

The team at also discovered that runners in fact choose the sport over other forms of fitness because it helps so much with their mental health, with this being chosen as the number one reason they take up the sport over other forms of fitness.

The top five reasons people choose running over other forms of fitness:

Rank Reason % of runners who agree with this statement
1 Running helps me improve my mental health 39%
2 Running is low-cost compared to team sports and gym memberships 38%
3 Running is the easiest form of fitness I can fit around my life 33%
4 Running is the best way for me to improve my cardio 32%
5 There are many places I can do it, for example in the gym on a treadmill, or outside on the road/trails 30%

Dan Cartner, Head of Marketing at, commented: “With conversations around mental health, and its link to physical health ever increasing, we wanted to take a deeper look at the impact that running has on our mental wellbeing.

“Our research shows that alongside running being a proven way for people to reduce their own stress, and get out in nature, it also has incredibly positive effects on reducing symptoms of conditions like depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

“Whilst also being a cost-effective way of incorporating movement into your routine, running is an easy form of fitness to fit around busy schedules – making it a great option for people wanting to move more. We hope our findings encourage more people to get inspired to start their own running journeys, and experience some of the positive effects that the sport can have on their mental health.”

If you’re concerned about your own mental health or the mental health of a loved one, you can contact any of the mental health charities listed here.

To read the full report head to:

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