Uneven terrain helps joggers detach from everyday life

4 Jul 2018

Physical sensations are accentuated when running in different environments. A research project funded by the Academy of Finland found that while running on forest trails the challenges caused by the uneven terrain help joggers detach from everyday life. Twists and bumps on the trail require positive concentration from joggers, which prevents them from worrying about other things. Moreover, trail running generates a positive connection with nature as the jogger focuses on various rocks, branches and other natural objects. On the other hand, running on steady terrain enables joggers to find a state of mind that can either be rather void of thought or allow them to solve everyday problems without active effort.

“The way the terrain feels while running has varying effects on the experiences and routines of runners. It can make running feel pleasing, boring, challenging, light, heavy, and so on,” describes Postdoctoral Researcher Jarkko Bamberg.

Bamberg, who works at the University of Tampere, seeks to establish new insights into how the physical experiences gained from various running environments affect health and wellbeing. Existing knowledge on the differences between various running experiences is limited. The data from the research suggests that both trodden nature trails and maintained paths in recreational forests have their own specific functions for joggers. The data can be used to create better running environments in recreational forests and encourage people to run more.

The research was conducted at the Kauppi sports park in Tampere by collecting data from running enthusiasts. A running interview was conducted with the participants. Each participant took the researcher along with them for a run at their typical running route during which the researcher asked about the participant’s running experiences and routines. The interviews were also recorded on video and the path was tracked via GPS. Also, a second interview was conducted with each participant. This consisted of an assessment of the video and the GPS recordings and a thorough discussion of what emerged during the running interview. 

More information and inquiries

  • Jarkko Bamberg, University of Tampere, tel. +358 40 727 1215

Photo: Pond5.com

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