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Running for Mental Health: 44% of Runners Reported Reduced Depression Symptoms in a New Study


A new report by sheds light on the positive impact of running on mental health, with nearly half of surveyed runners reporting improvements in symptoms of depression.

The survey, which involved over 2,100 participants in the UK, comes ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (13th to 19th May) and aligns with this year’s theme, “Movement: Moving more for our mental health.”

The UK Running Report, conducted by the running experts at, found that two in five runners experienced relief from depressive symptoms through running, while one in three reported a reduction in panic attacks.

This underscores the significant mental health benefits associated with regular physical activity like running.

The survey also revealed that running not only alleviates depressive symptoms but can also be a way to connect with nature, which is known to have its own mental health benefits.

According to the charity Mind, spending time in nature can promote greater physical activity, leading to enhanced memory, brain function, and cardiovascular health.

These benefits contribute to the broader positive effects that running and being outdoors can have on the mind.

Moreover, the survey showed that many people in the UK recognize the link between running and mental well-being.

The top reasons for taking up running were reducing stress (34%) and losing weight.

Additionally, 31% of respondents cited improving overall mental health, and 30% mentioned enhancing their mood as key motivators.

These findings suggest that running can play a vital role in managing mental health, with a significant portion of runners experiencing reduced symptoms of depression and other stress-related issues.

As the conversation around mental health continues to grow, running remains an accessible and effective way to boost both physical and mental health.

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 and improve their mental health.

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, including findings on mental health and running, and statistics around how many people in the UK are (and aren’t) running, and why, head to: