Can access to green spaces during parkrun events contribute to the positive mental health of the participants? A literature review

BULLAS, Alice, DUNNE, Allison, HAAKE, Steve and QUIRK, Helen (2020). Can access to green spaces during parkrun events contribute to the positive mental health of the participants? A literature review. In: Annual Health Promotion Conference; Promoting health and wellbeing: creating a more equitable and sustainable environment, Galway, Ireland.18th June 2020., Galway, Ireland, 18 Jun 2020.

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Introduction/Purpose Access to nature and green spaces are key ecological determinants of health. It has been shown that spending time in green space is important for maintaining good mental health. Parks allow people who are living in cities and towns to allow access to green spaces close to where they live. A UK-wide survey of 13,000 people found that a common reason for using a park is to attend a parkrun event. parkrun is a free, timed, 5km run or walk organised by local volunteers. The events take place in parks, beaches and green spaces in 22 countries worldwide and are designed to be accessible to everyone in the local community. In the 15 years since parkrun began there has been research on how parkrun participation impacts individuals and local communities. This literature review summarises the results of the published research from the perspective of the effects on mental health, particularly in relation to the effect of green space on the mental health of parkrun participants. Method/Design/Approach A review of the published literature relating to parkrun and mental health was undertaken in a systematic manner. CINAHL, Google Scholar, Medline PsychINFO, Scopus, SPORTDiscus and Web Of Science were searched with the keyword “parkrun.” No restrictions were applied for year published, language or country. Reference lists from the papers identified were also scanned. Studies were included if the subjects participated in parkrun (running, walking or volunteering) and the results included data on mental health or wellbeing. Determinants of mental health such as social support, community connection and sense of belonging were included when selecting papers. Findings The reviewer identified 13 peer reviewed papers and 3 editorials/opinion pieces, published between 2014 and 2020. Of the 13 peer reviewed studies, 9 had mental health outcomes and 4 described outcomes from the social determinants of mental health such as social capital. Only 3 publications included a specific mention of the green space or environment of the parkrun course. The instruments used to measure mental health varied between the publications so a meta-analysis was not possible. One study which considered the impact of the environment on the mental health of parkrun participants found that exercise in green spaces improved acute psychological wellbeing but the authors did not investigate the effects on long term mental health. The psychological effects did not differ across the four different types of setting (beach, grassland, riverside and heritage). Discussion/Practical or Social Implications The effect of parkrun on mental health is an area which has very little published research and no standardised method of measurement has been used. The impact of parkrun participation on mental health is clearly an area where more research is needed, particularly as communities balance the needs of housing and industry with the necessity for continued access to parks and green spaces.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2020 09:04
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 23:31

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