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What can a Grand Challenges Small Grant do for you?

Small Grant Report, 2011-12

1. Award title

Indoor versus Outdoor Running: A comparison of those who exercise in different environments, how they relate to their bodies when they do so, and what this suggests about the future promotion of public health through exercise

2. Amount


3. Applicants, Departments

a) Lead Applicant:

Dr Russell Hitchings (UCL Geography)

b) Main Collaborator:

Dr Courtney Kipps (UCL Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health)

c) Additional Collaborators:

Dr Alan Latham (UCL Geography)

Dr Eleanor Tillett (UCL Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health)

4. Summary of project / activity

The aim of this project is to generate insights about how recreational running is organised and experienced in cities today. Specifically the project compares the differing ways in which those who run indoors on treadmills and those who run outdoors understand the experience and effects of running.

The overall objective of the project is to use the insights generated about recreational running in crafting a larger study of how different forms of health-enhancing exercise might be encouraged. As wider societies become increasingly sedentary an appreciation of how recreational running is now experienced could help identify various new ways of helping others become more active.

5. Outcomes Please describe in terms of:

a) Leadership The project gave Hitchings the opportunity to lead an interdisciplinary project, ensuring that data collection progressed effectively and drawing directly on the expertise of collaborators, Latham and Kipps.

b) Cross-disciplinarity The project was devised to build interdisciplinary capacity within UCL regarding the links between physical activity and public health. There is much current interest in making these connections and our novel study held distinct promise in paving the way for further cross- departmental collaborations on this theme.

We are currently in the process of analysing the data generated through our interview and ethnographic work. This has been delayed because Hitchings took the opportunity to spend an 8 month sabbatical period collaborating with colleagues in Australia. However, we will soon be in a position to explore the interdisciplinary promise of our findings. In particular, we will be meeting as a group to identify findings that may be of particular relevance to audiences in health and exercise promotion and then to devise the most effective way of disseminating to them. Through undertaking this study, the project team has also become involved with the ‘sporting chance’ research (also funded by the UCL Grand Challenges Scheme) undertaken by Gustav Milne in Anthropology.

c) Impacts achieved Early findings from the project have already been disseminated internationally. Latham has presented on the project at the Association of American Geographers Conference and Hitchings has been invited to give a seminar on the project at the National University of Singapore. In view of the fact that we are still in the process of data analysis (after having successfully completed all the proposed fieldwork activities), publications are envisaged as being produced over the summer 2013 period.

i) New collaborations

ii)Papers submitted

iii) Papers published

Latham, AR; (2013) The history of a habit: jogging as a palliative to sedentariness in 1960s America. Cultural Geographies , online 10.1177/1474474013491927

iv) Grants awarded

Funder: Formas, Swedish Research Council

Period: 2014-16

Title: I joggingens spår - om nya rörelsemönster och hälsosam stadsutveckling (Reinterpreting fitness running: a topological study for healthy cities)

Amount: 4,400,000 Swedish Kroner (£440, 000), £23,000 is overhead to UCL.

Principle Investigator: Professor Mattias Qviström, Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Funder: ESRC Sustainable Practices Research Group (SPRG)

Period 2013-2015

Title: Dirt and disruption at summer festivals: a qualitative enquiry into dealing with unusual cleanliness practices 

Amount: £5,000

Principle Investigators: Russell Hitchings (UCL); Alison Browne (Manchester)

d) Novel insights A number of novel insights about the most effective means of encouraging public health through recreational running are in the process of being defined. Early findings indicate the value of understanding the ‘social’ nature of running (in terms of how people relate to others when they run), questioning the degree to which runners ‘monitor’ what they are doing (in terms of whether this is a valuable undertaking or something that detracts from the experience), and considering the health promotion implications of where running ‘should’ happen (in terms of how runners understand the nature of appropriate urban running). As described above, these will now be used to inform debate across health promotion, exercise research and urban geography.

6. Next steps beyond this project / activity?

The next steps for us are producing outputs and ensuring our findings are used to inform larger studies of health promotion through urban running. This is where the collaborative aspect of the project will come into its own but we are not there yet because analysis is still taking place alongside other work pressures.

Page last modified on 03 jan 14 09:25