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Not just a run in the park: A qualitative exploration of parkrun and mental health.

Morris, Paul (2017) Not just a run in the park: A qualitative exploration of parkrun and mental health. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University & Keele University.

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Abstract or description

The aim of this thesis is to explore the experiences of people, with current or past mental health difficulties, participating in a community-based mass participation running event. The research also aims to explore the benefits of supporting psychological wellbeing through community involvement and physical activity.
Paper one provides an overview of the current literature examining the psychological and social impact of community-based exercise projects. Nine studies were reviewed. The studies were critically appraised and the findings synthesised. Despite previous research evidence that physical activity is beneficial to mental health and that community-based projects can improve both social inclusion and mental health, the review did not find strong evidence in support of the social and emotional benefits of community-based exercise projects, however research specifically exploring this was limited. The studies reviewed provide only weak evidence that community-based physical activity is socially and psychologically beneficial, but demonstrate potential for such projects to be helpful.
Paper two examined parkrun; a free, weekly, worldwide, five-kilometere running event facilitated by volunteers. Research evidence suggests that many elements of parkrun may be beneficial to mental health such as: physical activity, increased community involvement, being outdoors and volunteering opportunities. This study explored the mental health impact of parkrun on people with an experience of mental health difficulties. Twenty participants were interviewed. A thematic analysis was conducted and three themes identified: “sense of achievement,” “connecting with others” and “it’s for everyone.” The themes identified that participants valued the inclusive and supportive community environment of parkrun. Running was seen as a means of facilitating this, and of giving participants a sense of achievement. Participants universally felt that parkrun was beneficial to their mental health.
Paper three provides a personal reflective account of the process of conducting this research project and writing this thesis. Attention is paid to the background
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to the project, the process of writing paper one and paper two, and the context in which the thesis was written.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Psychology
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 16 May 2018 13:16
Last Modified: 16 May 2018 13:16
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/4443

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