Busy roads and lack of time are stopping Brits taking up running

Look how much fun you could be having [Monkey Business Images/REX/Shutterstock]
Look how much fun you could be having [Monkey Business Images/REX/Shutterstock]

What’s stopping you from taking up running? If you said busy roads, safety and a lack of time then you’re not alone – a new study of novice runners has found these to be the biggest barriers to beginning to exercise.

Cardiff University researchers worked with first-time runners, interviewing them before and six months after the World Half Marathon Championships in March 2016.

The university-sponsored event took place in Cardiff, and most people (eight out of ten) said that work-life commitments were the main problem.

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Safety fears while running alone was another top answer, cited by one third of women and 15% of men – while 12% said they were put off by busy roads.

Women were also more likely to be put off running because they didn’t feel fully prepared or want to run in front of a crowd. Men, meanwhile, said the possibility of not reaching their target put them off.

Many positive reasons were given for running, including a sense of wellbeing, reported by 28% of respondents, getting outdoors (22%) and better health (20%).

Research study lead Dr Liba Sheeran said, “We know that physical activity is good for our health but the challenge is understanding how we can instil a lasting change in the nation’s physical activity and exercise behaviours.

“Although mass races provide motivation and opportunity, it is not clear whether that alone is enough to ensure a long-term change in someone’s behaviour and take up regular exercise.”

Despite that, almost every participant in the study said they planned to keep running, and the majority of those who took the six-month follow up survey said they had continued to exercise.

Study participants were among 500 first-time runners recruited by event organiser Run4Wales with the offer of free places through the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) social responsibility programme, Athletics for a Better World.