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Following a Trend: Is Running Contagious?

What can you say about running that hasn’t already been said in detail? Well, how about the fact that the activity of running can be contagious in the best of ways? And yet, the latest studies suggest that this very well may be the case.

Just think about it for a minute. Most people that take up jogging as their favorite athletic activity have probably heard about it at great length from friends or family members. The positive impact this activity has on physical and mental health combined with the flexible nature of the activity renders it positively irresistible, even for the laziest of individuals.

It is therefore not so much a trend to call running contagious as it is revelatory with the latest findings. However, you can call running a sort of activity that is disseminated among people by the very essence of what ‘following a trend’ represents.

Practical APPlication

You’d think that, in this digital age, people would go out of their way to avoid running and simply go for the goal/result-oriented exercises within the confines of the local gym. However, the appearance of exercise apps has changed this game completely.

It appears that the proliferation of convenient running apps helped both the researchers and, indeed, the popularity of this activity in the digital age. This is especially reflected in the running apps that add a social component to the proceedings.

Sharing is caring

Sharing your results and comparing your parameters with the ones your running buddies have accomplished will work-up your competitive side in a similar way to video game rankings. Also, comparing this information and taking up challenges can motivate you to achieve better results, which further renders running even more addicting.

Apart from that, the efficiency of how these apps affect you and your ‘running buddies’ group will encourage you to share your story among the friends and family that do not tend to run. By describing the appeal of this newfound digital angle, you are practically enticing them to follow a trend and ‘dip their toes’ into using the app for the competitive jogging game.

That mysterious social component

While it is true that the studied samples of runners do not represent all the joggers in the world, the research nevertheless represents a crucial foundation for further research by psychologists and medical professionals that are interested to encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles. The key is to ‘break’ the code of the ultimate component that influences and drives human beings – the social aspect.

In their study from the April of 2017, the researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, Sinan Aral and Christos Nicolaides, gathered half a decade of data from over a million runners around the world in order to inspect significant correlations in the behavior of runner, with the goal being what drives their motivation.

Aral and Nicolaides found out exactly what you’d venture to expect: a network of friends tended to share similar training routines. Furthermore, their routines would shift as the years went by in something that can liberally be called synchronicity, and this was especially the case with people that had a habit of hanging out virtually on a regular basis.

The weather pattern

To lay out more precise findings, the researchers have also looked into the component of weather and how it influences runners, especially those that communicate with each other. To achieve this, they have accomplished a massive undertaking: the researches gathered half a decade worth of weather data around the world and cross-correlated it with the information about runners. The results were staggering.

It turns out that people feel more encouraged to run even on a rainy day if they notice that their friend has made an extra effort. Even if the weather appears to be discouraging, a jogger will stretch their effort for circa 3 minutes if a friend has run about 10 minutes longer than usual. These are some hopeful findings if the medical community is looking for manageable ways to encourage people to exercise.

It appears that, as it often does, the simplest answer was always there, in front of our very eyes. You don’t need to pummel people over the head with ‘scary’ medical facts, they just require social encouragement to pursue something through the joy of socialization and competition.


Running is the cornerstone of physical activity. Our bodies are engineered to move and withstand exertion, but they can present quite an effort in the beginning. It holds that running can be a challenging activity if you keep pushing yourself with every training, but it is also what you’d call a ‘gateway’ activity. This is because even the most unfit individuals can start with mild jogging and work their way up.

Individuals can dictate their own pace, duration, and intensity of the exercise without feeling obliged to respect a fixed schedule of any kind. With the latest apps that prove running is contagious, anyone can begin comparing and contrasting their running experiences with the ones of other, more accomplished jogging athletes, thus encouraging themselves to work harder.

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Written by Nat Sauteed

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