5 Reasons Why You Should Try Social Running

Running is often seen as a solitary activity, a time to zone out and focus on personal goals. However, there’s a growing movement advocating for social running, which involves running with a group or a partner. This shift is not just a trend but a well-supported approach to enhancing physical, mental, and emotional health. Here are five compelling reasons to try social running, backed by science.

1. Enhanced Motivation and Accountability

The Power of Social Support

One of the most significant benefits of social running is the increased motivation it brings. Running with others creates a sense of accountability. When you know that a group or a partner is expecting you, you’re more likely to show up and complete your runs. This accountability is crucial for maintaining consistency, which is key to any successful fitness regimen.

A study conducted by Laranjo et al. (2015) found that social support significantly impacts physical activity levels. Participants who received social support were more likely to engage in regular exercise compared to those who did not. This support can come in many forms, from verbal encouragement to the simple presence of a running partner.

Reducing Perceived Effort

Running with others can also reduce the perceived effort of the activity. A study by Duncan et al. (2012) demonstrated that participants running with a partner reported lower levels of perceived exertion compared to those running alone. This effect is partly due to the distraction provided by conversation and the psychological boost of companionship.

2. Improved Performance and Skill Development

Competitive Edge and Peer Learning

Running in a group often introduces a competitive element that can drive individuals to push their limits. This competition doesn’t have to be intense; even friendly rivalry can lead to significant improvements in performance. A study by Midgley et al. (2006) highlighted that competitive environments lead to increased running speed and endurance among athletes.

Moreover, social running offers opportunities for peer learning. Novice runners can learn from more experienced individuals, picking up tips on technique, pacing, and even injury prevention. This informal coaching can lead to faster skill development and better overall performance.

Varied Workouts and Increased Challenge

Groups often incorporate varied workouts into their routines, including interval training, hill runs, and long-distance sessions. These varied workouts are essential for improving different aspects of running performance, such as speed, endurance, and strength. According to a study by Billat et al. (2001), varied training is more effective at improving running performance than uniform training routines.

3. Enhanced Mental Health and Well-being

Combatting Loneliness and Depression

Running in a social setting can significantly enhance mental well-being. Loneliness and social isolation are major risk factors for depression and anxiety. By running with others, individuals can build meaningful connections and reduce feelings of loneliness. A study by Hawkley and Cacioppo (2010) found that social interaction is crucial for mental health, reducing the risk of depression and anxiety.

Stress Reduction and Mood Enhancement

Physical activity, including running, is well-known for its mood-enhancing effects due to the release of endorphins. However, social running amplifies these benefits. A study by Plante et al. (2001) indicated that group exercise sessions resulted in greater reductions in stress and improvements in mood compared to solitary exercise sessions. The combination of physical exertion and social interaction provides a powerful boost to mental health.

4. Increased Safety and Support

Safety in Numbers

Safety is a critical concern for many runners, especially those running in urban areas or during early morning or late evening hours. Running in a group enhances safety, as there is strength in numbers. Groups are more visible to traffic and less likely to encounter trouble.

A study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2018) supports this, noting that group physical activity reduces the likelihood of accidents and injuries. The presence of others also means immediate help is available in case of injury or emergency.

Encouragement and Emotional Support

Beyond physical safety, social running provides emotional support. Having companions can make dealing with tough runs or training setbacks more manageable. A study by Uchino (2006) found that emotional support from group members can buffer stress and improve coping mechanisms, contributing to overall well-being.

5. Greater Enjoyment and Adherence to Exercise

Making Exercise Fun

Enjoyment is a key factor in maintaining a long-term exercise habit. Running with a group can make the activity more enjoyable due to the social interaction and camaraderie. A study by Zunft et al. (1999) showed that enjoyment significantly influences exercise adherence. Participants who found their exercise routine enjoyable were more likely to stick with it over time.

Building a Community

Social running fosters a sense of community and belonging. This communal aspect can transform running from a solitary task into a shared experience, making it more fulfilling and sustainable. A study by Pretty et al. (2007) highlighted that group activities foster social bonds and increase overall life satisfaction.


Social running offers numerous benefits that extend beyond physical fitness. Enhanced motivation, improved performance, better mental health, increased safety, and greater enjoyment are just a few reasons to consider incorporating social running into your routine. Backed by scientific evidence, these benefits make a compelling case for trying social running.


Billat, V. L., Slawinski, J., Bocquet, V., Demarle, A., & Lafitte, L. (2001). Intermittent runs at the velocity associated with maximal oxygen uptake enables subjects to remain at maximal oxygen uptake for a longer time than intense but submaximal runs. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 85(1-2), 45-51.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Duncan, M. J., Al-Nakeeb, Y., & Nevill, A. M. (2012). Influence of familiarization and competitive on the exercise dependence inventory. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30(3), 283-290.

Hawkley, L. C., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2010). Loneliness matters: A theoretical and empirical review of consequences and mechanisms. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 40(2), 218-227.

Laranjo, L., Neves, A. L., Costa, A., Ribeiro, R. T., Couto, L., & Sá, A. B. (2015). The influence of social networking sites on health behavior change: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 22(1), 243-256.

Midgley, A. W., McNaughton, L. R., & Jones, A. M. (2006). Training to enhance the physiological determinants of long-distance running performance: can valid recommendations be given to runners and coaches based on current scientific knowledge? Sports Medicine, 36(9), 761-785.

Plante, T. G., Coscarelli, L., & Ford, M. (2001). Does exercise environment enhance the psychological benefits of exercise for women? International Journal of Stress Management, 8(3), 193-200.

Pretty, J., Peacock, J., Sellens, M., & Griffin, M. (2007). The mental and physical health outcomes of green exercise. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 15(5), 319-337.

Uchino, B. N. (2006). Social support and health: A review of physiological processes potentially underlying links to disease outcomes. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29(4), 377-387.

Zunft, H. J., Friebe, D., Seppelt, B., Widhalm, K., de Winter, A. M., de Almeida, M. D., & Kearney, J. M. (1999). Perceived benefits and barriers to physical activity in a nationally representative sample in the European Union. Public Health Nutrition, 2(1a), 153-160.

Key Takeaways

Benefit Description
Enhanced Motivation Increased accountability and reduced perceived effort when running with others.
Improved Performance Competitive edge, peer learning, and varied workouts enhance running skills and performance.
Better Mental Health Reduces loneliness and depression, enhances mood, and decreases stress levels.
Increased Safety Greater safety in numbers, immediate help available in emergencies, emotional support.
Greater Enjoyment More fun and enjoyable experience, fosters a sense of community, and improves exercise adherence.

Source link: https://www.boxrox.com/5-reasons-why-you-should-try-social-running/ by Robbie Wild Hudson at www.boxrox.com