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Run Yourself Happy

Running in a group makes 90% of people happier

Whilst the physical benefits of running are well known, new research released today reveals that improvements in emotional health and wellbeing are being experienced by an extraordinary three-quarters of runners.

The “Miracle Cure” improving brits’ mental health

In the first major poll* of its kind, questioning 13,200 people over 12 months between September 2016 and August 2017, 74% of runners said they felt running was good for their mental wellbeing.

In an additional survey** of the England Athletics’ RunTogether community, a staggering 89% of all runners said they had increased happiness as a direct result of running with others or in a group.

Experts confirm that running, especially in a group, can do wonders for mental health.

Physical exercise improves a person’s well-being by releasing endorphins, the body’s ‘feel good’ hormones. Studies show that in mild to moderate depression patients who exercise regularly do as well as those prescribed antidepressant medications or talking therapies.” Dr Averil McClelland, GP and elite Masters Athlete.

GP and author of Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health, Juliet McGrattan added “Energy levels and motivation are low when you are struggling with depression. Exercising and committing to a group can help give you the extra boost to get you going and keep you going.”

The results of this research reinforce the huge success of England Athletics’ RunTogether programme, which breaks down barriers for individuals new to running, and helps them to build confidence, establish relationships and cope with the daily stresses of life. Over 40,000 people have registered to join RunTogether, seeking opportunities to run with others, since the programme launched in January 2017.

Running in groups brings other benefits. The poll showed that group runners were more likely to be regular runners (62%) when compared to solo runners (51%).
The rapid growth in running groups across the country is significant for England Athletics as it works towards its goal of getting one million people into athletics and running by 2021. There’s also been a big increase in the number of people becoming Run Leaders, with over 3,000 people a year taking England Athletics’ Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) qualification.

Commenting on the findings, Matt Birkett, Head of Participation at England Athletics, said: “At a time when mental health is a such key concern for society, it’s great to formally acknowledge that something as simple as running with others can make such a significant difference to happiness and emotional wellbeing. Whether you’re contemplating lacing up in preparation for your first walk-jog or training for a specific event, being around other people who share your goals and motivation can be a powerful influence and the highly accessible RunTogether website means it’s easier than ever to find a local running group. With 1,328 RunTogether groups nationwide, people can choose from sessions ranging from ‘Get Me Started’ right through to ‘Challenge Me’.”

RunTogether - running is good for your mental health

Priory consultant, Dr Laurence Church, who is based at the Priory’s Hospital in Woking, Surrey said: “I treat an increasing number of people suffering from stress, depression and anxiety. Exercise, often running, can be an important component of recovery from mental health problems, and in maintaining well-being. The power of the social aspect of the RunTogether programme appears to be an important ingredient for many – boosting self-confidence, reducing social isolation and ensuring people keep coming back.”

Someone that credits group running with turning their life around is Diana Postle, who experienced the devastating loss of her husband at Christmas in 2015 following a long battle with cancer. Earlier this year, she joined the RunTogether ‘Up The Tempo’ group in Norwich and hasn’t looked back since.

“For three years, I had been going through the hardship of my husband’s illness, death and the aftermath of that,” says 65-year-old Diana. “I felt I needed to break out of the four walls of my house which had become a prison to me, having been thrown into the overwhelming task of clearing the house on my own.”

“Running in a group gives me a feeling of being ‘safely enclosed’ with others around me, yet not smothered by people’s focused attention or feeling claustrophobic which can happen in crowded places. The friendships I have made, along with the fun and laughter of the comradery, has been incredible medicine. The RunTogether Leaders and the group members lift one another up, and cheer us all to being, as well as doing, our best.”


RunTogether was launched by England Athletics on January 10, 2017 with the aim of helping adults across England to establish regular running habits, which bring a range of physical and mental health well-being benefits. All RunTogether programmes focus on running with other people, based on research that you’re more likely to keep running regularly if you do it as part of a group**.


RunTogether Groups are fun, organised jogs/runs with other people, led by qualified*** group leaders.

Over 1,328 running groups can be found at

Over 40,000 people have registered to run with RunTogether since January 2017

The structured sessions, with warm ups and cool down help to reduce injury and cater for all running levels:

  • Get me started – if you’re a beginner runner/ jogger, or if you’ve not run for a while and want a gentle introduction. There is no minimum standard or level of experience.
  • Keep me going – These runs are for you if you generally run at least twice per month and feel comfortable running/jogging around 5km without stopping
  • Challenge me – These run sessions are for runners who typically run at least once every week and are looking to increase their pace and / or running distance.

Mental Health Ambassadors

Our Mental Health Ambassador programme is a growing network of volunteers (currently just over 300) from RunTogether Groups and England Athletics affiliated running clubs who support people who are experiencing mental health problems to start running, get back into running, or continue running. We actively everyone to #runandtalk about their mental health to:

  • Remove the stigma by getting people talking about mental health and sharing their experiences
  • Raise awareness of mental health problems

For further information, see:

Find a Guide

We train and licence guide runners (currently just over 200) to run with visually impaired runners, helping more people access running safely. Guides are available throughout the country, running on various terrains at a range of paces and distances. All our guide runners have:

  • Attended a Sight Loss Awareness and Guide Running Workshop
  • Cleared a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check

For further information, see:


Since 2005, the number of people running in England has grown by 64%. Participation is driven by social, health and economic factors. Running is now less competitive and a genuine leisure pursuit.

  • 7.1 M people have been for a run at least twice per month in the last year
  • 75 per cent of all runners agree running is good for their emotional health and well-being
  • Running is currently the most popular sporting activity in England
  • The gender gap is reducing; 73% of recent growth has come from women and over 90% from those aged between 35-54


England Athletics develops grass roots athletics and running in England, supporting affiliated clubs to prosper, developing more and better coaches, recruiting and supporting volunteers and officials. England Athletics provides and supports competition opportunities at an international (England representative), national, area and county level. England Athletics also delivers campaigns and programme to inspire and provide opportunities for people in England to start running. These include This Girl Can Run (a running activation campaign linked to Sport England’s parent This Girl Can campaign) and RunTogether.

England Athletics is a signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation. The Charter sets out how sport can use its collective power to tackle the stigma that surrounds mental health and help people seek support when needed, see more at

For more information on England Athletics please visit:


Dr Averil McClelland is a recently retired GP and Masters Track and Field Athlete, competing for Great Britain in the sprints and long jump. She encourages people that exercise is the best way to stay physically and mentally healthy as we age.


Dr Juliet McGrattan is a GP, runner and health writer. Her passion is helping people to find health and wellbeing through physical activity. Dr Juliet McGrattan’s new book Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health offers advice to help you stay fit and well. This accessible handbook covers everything from exercise during your period, recovering from illness or keeping active during your pregnancy


The Priory Group is the leading provider of behavioural care in the UK caring for around 30,000 people a year for conditions including depression, stress, drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders and self-harming. The Group is organised into three divisions – healthcare, education and children’s services, and adult care. The Priory Group is owned by NASDAQ-listed Acadia Healthcare, which is recognised as a global leader in behavioural health. From 30 November 2016, 66 Partnerships in Care sites became part of the Priory Group.

For further information and to see how Priory is changing people’s lives for the better, see:—films

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