The Benefits of the Olympics and Unemployment: Running

I recently wrote a post about fans of the Olympics and professional sports being motivated to workout, get in shape and more…A friend of mine (ironically from my Running Group) sent the following article which was published on yesterday (but originally written by Reuters). It talks about how a combination of the Olympics (and its excitement) and the depressed economy has caused many individuals to turn to running. Running, of course, is cheaper than gym memberships and other sports (like tennis lessons or renting a court, swimming, etc.). It refers specifically to Europe, but I am confident a similar phenomenom has been happening in the United States as well.

I have pulled out a few of my favorite points. I, however, do recommend that you read the whole thing here.

Fun Runners Hit the Road in Crisis-Struck Europe

As budgets tighten and working lives get more stressful, running is experiencing a boom as people hit the parks and streets of their cities to escape from it all and keep themselves healthy for just the cost of a pair of sneakers.

With places in marathons and road races from New York to London to Berlin being snapped up almost instantly, and hundreds of thousands of spectators turning up to watch the triathlon and marathon at the London 2012 Olympics, the $18 billion running market is set for further growth.

“There is absolutely a running boom and it’s global,” Mike McManus, Adidas market director for running, told Reuters at the group’s headquarters in the small Bavarian town of Herzogenaurauch, where employees regularly make the most of the area’s woodland trails for lunchtime runs.

While the successes of the Olympics may inspire some people to get off their sofas and into a pair of running shoes, medal-winning is not the main motivation behind the trend.

“People are doing it not to win, like Usain Bolt, but because they want to get fit. People run to have fun and keep their weight in check, because we all like to eat and drink a little too much,” said Klaus Jost, chairman of Intersport International Corp, the brand management and purchasing arm of the world’s largest sporting goods retailer.

A typical health club. Photo credit: Photo by /

The boom is especially noticeable among people in their mid-20s who are new to the sport and who see running as a way to escape the stresses and strains of working life, or even as a way to get to the office, say people in the sports industry.

The health club sector, meanwhile, is suffering in the economic downturn as consumers cut discretionary spending.

The UK’s Fitness First chain narrowly avoided insolvency in June, but is now looking to sell around half of its gyms.


Running coach Peter McHugh de Clare, who at 65 years of age still runs for 90 minutes a day, agrees.

“We’re built to run and if we don’t do it, we’re going to have a very big health problem. Running is easy, it’s relatively cheap,” he told Reuters.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.