Running about the place

Running has been a regular part of my life for years, and for me, my running is about more than just the exercise it offers me. I love how running enables and encourages me to spend time outside, to explore my neighbourhood and to get out into the green spaces around and about. So I have been thinking about ways to connect my running and my research for sometime.

Excitingly I’ve found a way and my new project is called Running About the Place. The project combines my interest in understanding more about the values or benefits of green spaces and nature, and running.

Academic and policy literature recognises and claims many potential benefits of green spaces and green infrastructure, including air quality improvements, biodiversity conservation, water and flood management and health and well-being benefits. Of particular interest to me is the connection between health and well-being and green spaces – well-being benefits are a large part of my own running practice. This connection is made more valuable in light of research from environmental psychology which introduces the potential that the combination of exercise in green spaces – green exercise – may provide compound benefits not achieved from the same exercise in a typically urban space. So staying healthy may actually be a walk (or run, jog, plod) in a park.

With an emerging understanding of green exercise, and work predominantly coming from psychology and health sciences, it’s important for built environment and geography research to contribute to this discussion. Something that Bamberg et al. (2018) noted, calling for the need for planning and landscape professionals to take green exercise into account. They argue for further research to improve our understanding of the lived experience of green exercise and for research to consider the specificity of how exercisers relate to their environments. This should include research which takes into account variation in green or ‘natural’ spaces, the dynamism of ‘nature’, including weather, and the range and specificity of exercise types and exercisers (Bamberg et al., 2018).

And this is where ‘Running About the Place’ strides (pardon the pun) in. The aim is to investigate the combination of green spaces, green exercise and health and well-being through running practice. The project also gives me the opportunity to explore some methodological novelty with the ‘run-along’ interview. Here’s me green screening an explanation of my green exercise green space research…

If you’ve read this far, thank you. If you’re Greater Manchester based maybe you’d like to participate in the project?

You can find out more here Running about the place_poster Running about the place_participant info.

If you’re reading this and you’re located away from Greater Manchester or the surroundings then maybe you would be interested to read about my new side project ‘Running all over the place’. The idea is to broaden the reach of my work so you can participate from wherever you’re located in the world! Check out my post on the project here.

Get in touch on Twitter @DrSamHayes1 or email

BAMBERG, J., HITCHINGS, R. & LATHAM, A. 2018. Enriching green exercise research. Landscape and Urban Planning, 178, 270-275.


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