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Running: the fastest growing physical activity trend in the world

12112402_10153165006622681_7866902328224629644_nA workshop discussing new trends in physical activity was held during the second day of MOVE Congress 2015 focusing on the topic “Running across the world – why are recreational runners part of one of the fastest growing markets and what can clubs do to recapture their interest?”

The workshop was moderated by Rebecca Steele, a project manager at DGI and consultant for “Move for Life’s running programme, and the speakers represented DGI Running and the Danish Athletics Federation. The workshop started with a presentation of the recent book “Running across Europe – The rise and size of one of the largest sport markets” by Dr. Jeroen Scheerder, Policy in Sports & Physical Activity Research Group, KU Leuven, Belgium.

The presentation touched on the large amount of international data collected about running, as well as the market size that this trend has created, which is around 50 million participants and 10 billion euro in economic value. The presentation outlined the general organisation and governance of running, including the pyramid of elite runners, high level and competitive runners, performance and recreational runners as well as the division between free runners and club runners.

The second presentation by Mette Madsen from DGI Lab, Denmark, gave an insight into the running scene in Denmark, where over 31% (1.3 million) of Danes have reported that they are runners. The new trends such as marathon and endurance running as well as social media growing presence have changed the scene and running clubs have experienced a significant decline in participants who are willing to become members. The solution to the struggles might be to develop a strong social network, create opportunities for skills development and have better trained coaches, as injuries are the biggest reason that people leave.


The third and final presentation was an innovative example from Italy called “05:30”, which was presented by Dr. Sabrina Severi from UISP in Italy. She presented the initiative, which that has gained a significant following with more than 30,000 participants to date, and many partner alliances from municipal partners to health food vendors. The idea of the project is that people join in a 5km run or walk at 05:30 in the morning before starting their day. This way the organisers are introducing a new concept and method of changing habits and improving overall health. As the distance can be done also by walking it is a very inclusive activity and can be done by people with different levels of fitness.

The presentations were followed by a workshop where participants were able to join different focus groups and discuss the relevant questions and share their experience and knowledge.

Find more information here.


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