Running: It’s a Way of Life for Millennials

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Interest in health and wellness have begun to shift from a focus on treatment and management of disease to health promotion and the prevention of disease. One important approach accentuating the promotion of health and prevention is the emphasis placed on overall wellness, particularly active living and healthy eating.

Early adulthood is an important time in an individual’s health and wellness; it is also the time when disease and unhealthy habits related to disease develop. Millennials (born 1980-2000) have been identified as a physically active generation – as well as the most educated and socially-connected generation to date, all determinants of good health and a positive health status[1]. Conversely, this generation also has increased rates of childhood obesity and early onset type 2 diabetes, and is the first generation believed to have a shorter lifespan than their parents[2].

These two opposing trends are why Achieve, in partnership with Running USA and RacePartner, was so excited to conduct the research for the Millennial Running Study.

In the first release of the study, our research team sought to understand why so many millennials get involved in running, and what organized running events can do to keep them interested and engaged. Phase I showed that millennial runners run for health above all other reasons. In fact, two-thirds of respondents report being frequent or “fitness” runners, indicating they run to maintain or increase their health and well-being – a finding consistent among male and female runners.

In Phase II of the Millennial Running Study, we delved more deeply into the health and fitness reasons for running. In this phase, we found that many millennials begin running to lose weight, but they continue running to maintain not only their physical health but to also improve their mental and emotional health. Clearly millennials, who account for more than a quarter of our nation’s population[3], understand the value of running as an activity that promotes health and prevents disease.

In the most recent phase of this research, we also further explain and support elements of millennial runners’ running experience and philanthropic activity – with a concentrated examination of their interest and participation in event volunteerism.

In order to understand more about specific segments of millennial runners, we examined responses by gender and by the following categories into which respondents self-selected:

  • Serious Competitive Runner
  • Frequent/Fitness Runner
  • Walker/Jogger/Recreational Runner
  • Obstacle Event Participant

These subsets allowed us to uncover key takeaways for event directors who want to market their event to millennial participants and volunteers. Phase II will be released on September 14 and will include recommendations on how to take these findings and apply them to all types of running events. Make sure you sign up for updates so you’re the first to know when Phase II is available for download.

Interested in learning more about your event participants or the health and wellness of a specific group? Send us a note using the contact form below, and we’ll get you the answers you’re looking for!

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[1] http://www.who.int/hia/evidence/doh/en/

[2] Daniels, S. (2009). Complications of obesity in children and adolescents. International Journal of Obesity, 33, S60-S65.

[3] https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-113.html

Amy Thayer

As Achieve’s Director of Research, Amy is responsible for identifying and devising appropriate methodologies and data-collection strategies for projects like the Millennial Impact Report and the Millennial Running Study.

Amy received her PhD in Human Nutrition, Foods, & Exercise from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She has also earned a MSRA in Recreation Administration for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a BS in Secondary Education from the University of Dayton. She served as the Associate Director of Research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy before coming to Achieve in 2015.

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