During the isolation of lockdown in recent months, the world has fallen in love with running. That's according to a new and ongoing research study by ASICS whose initial findings have been released today. More importantly, that research shows that nearly three-quarters of runners around the world plan to stick with their new exercise routine.
To help the world maintain and continue its new-found love of running, ASICS has launched its #RunToFeel initiative aimed at helping the world’s runners stay active and connected.
14,000 runners across 12 countries surveyed
The study, which ASICS is conducting to better understand and support the changing needs of runners, surveyed 14,000 people across 12 countries who exercise regularly. It found that more than a third (36 percent globally) are more active 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 the fitness-tracking app, Runkeeper™, show that runners of every level are tallying up more strides, more often.
In April 2020, the app saw a 252 percent rise in registrations globally and a 44 percent increase in monthly active users compared to the same period last year. It also reported a 62 percent spike globally in people heading out for a weekly run. Put in context, in the days around Global Running Day last week, there was a +47.3 percent increase globally in people running compared to last year.
The study also revealed that for the majority of people, the driving force of this surge in activity is not only to improve their physical health. Two-thirds of those surveyed say exercise helps them cope better mentally when they face challenging situations like the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, 81 percent say running is playing a key role in helping them clear their mind while nearly two-thirds insist that the mental benefits of running outweigh any other form of physical exercise.
Running past Covid-19
Furthermore, runners across the board say they are keen to continue their active habits once the crisis is over. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed 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 who exercise regularly are determined to maintain the important role sport and movement is currently playing in their lives. Most encouraging is that nearly two-third of those who took up running after the Covid-19 crisis began say they will continue running.
“For most of us, life is full of anxieties, uncertainties and restrictions at the moment,” said Yasuhito Hirota, the President & Chief Operating Officer of ASICS. “As our study’s initial findings prove, a run has therefore become much more than just a run. It’s a way for people to put aside the extraordinary mental challenges of this pandemic. And importantly, it’s something which they want to maintain as lockdowns ease across the globe.”
Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, added: “It makes perfect sense that people around the world have turned to running during this crisis.
“When you run, you literally sense yourself moving forward in life. You can feel your muscles propel you forward. Your actions take you somewhere. In a time when so many people feel trapped or isolated, running provides a direct, physical experience of freedom. By encouraging runners of all abilities to recognise and share how running makes them feel, ASICS is helping them fulfill their aspirations to keep moving.”
Helping the world #RunToFeel
The #RunToFeel initiative aims to engage runners of all levels in several ways. These include:
- Calling on runners of all levels to share their stories of how running makes them feel via #RunToFeel
- Continuing to reach out to runners of all levels to better inform upcoming ASICS innovations and initiatives, including a new virtual running format in September
- Offering free access to the ASICS Studio™, an at-home workout app, through the end of August 2020
- Hosting virtual races powered by Race Roster and Runkeeper™ to motivate runners and allow them to compete together safely
- Allowing free access to the #RunToFeel Challenge in the ASICS Runkeeper™ app – with new challenges being added each month
- Allowing 90 days of complimentary to training plans and all premium features of the ASICS Runkeeper™ app as a benefit of OneASICS membership
- Providing additional training content and guidance from the ASICS FrontRunner community and athletes
- and counting all miles logged within the Runkeeper™ app globally from 3-10 June as part of the collective ASICS pledge to GlobalRunningDay.org.
“Nine in 10 runners told us they feel best when their mind and body are connected – and never has that balance been more important than it is now,” Hirota added.
“ASICS was founded on the belief that movement can help anyone achieve a sound mind through a sound body. Through our products and services, and by constantly deepening our understanding of their changing needs, we want to help runners of every level go further, perform better and protect themselves against injury – both during this pandemic and beyond.”
ASICS for World Athletics