Running during the global COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study examining perceptions and behaviours for runners.

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University of New Brunswick


The COVID-19 global pandemic led to widespread public health measures that include social distancing and closures of many exercise and physical activity (PA) facilities, city parks, and playgrounds. Running may be a key form of PA for some Canadians as it is accessible, feasible, and convenient. Study objectives were to understand the perceived impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health measures on runners; specifically, i) running behaviours, functions, and motives of running behaviours; ii) social aspects of running behaviours; and iii) other health-related behaviours. Eligibility criteria included: 19 years of age or older, living in Canada, could access Facebook Messenger, and were a runner. This was a deductive qualitative study using a thematic approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via an online instant messaging service. Twentynine runners (female= 17, male= 12, median age= 38) participated in the study. Three main themes were identified: Shift, tension, and interconnectedness.