The Rise of the Running Culture: Exploring Key Influences and Factors

Photo by Miguel A Amutio on Unsplash

Running is gradually becoming America’s favorite way to exercise. Research firm Statista estimates that more than 50 million Americans identity running as their favorite way of working out. A further 110 million people choose walking to cut weight or stay in good shape.

Why are Americans choosing running and walking over gym memberships? The short answer is that running is easy, cheap and easily accessible. It’s also effective at cutting weight.

Stick around to discover more reasons why running is growing popular across the US.

Running is a Sport

Unlike most workouts, running is a competitive sport recognized by every sports professional body in the world. Running might not be as popular as football, basketball or baseball.

But considering it has 50M fans in the US alone, it’s a major sport. Across the world, hundreds of millions of people run casually. Many of these runners also watch professionals running competitions like the Olympics and the Marathon Majors.

Americans generally love and respect sports. They watch sports for entertainment. And they respect athletes because they know sports is a genuine career field.

People who watch marathons and short races also tend to run casually as already mentioned. And now that running has been proven to help with cutting weight, more and more Americans are expected to become runners in the future.

Lots of Media Attention

When you think about it, the media plays an important role in popularizing sports and workouts in the country. Of the major ways you can work out, few exercises receive as much media attention as running.

Think about it. Every year, three American cities—Boston, New York and Chicago—host three of the six major running marathons in the world. These competitions attract the best runners in the world.

A marathon major is a big competition. Not only does it attract all the media companies in the US and overseas, it also attracts local media companies. Media attentions gets people talking.

The media also shapes trends. Think of any trend ever—social media, smartphones, fashion, food or the trend of paying by phone bill. These trends received popularity mainly thanks to the power of the media.

Running also gets coverage during events like the Olympics, the Diamond League and local field and track competitions. Media coverage has created a large community of people who enjoy running. And now that they know its benefits, they’re not just watching others run. They’re also running.

Weight Loss

The primary reason people run is to stay in shape. This is especially true for college educated Americans, who prefer running to hitting the gym. When you think about it, more Americans need to lace up in an effort to keep fit.

America has an obesity problem. According to the CDC, 41% of Americans are overweight. The percentage of severe obesity stands at 9%. Middle-aged Americans have the highest percentage of overweight people at 44%.

While the number of overweight Americans is considerably high, the government is doing a lot to bring these numbers down. Not only is it educating people on the need to change their lifestyle habits, but also it is encouraging Americans to embrace working out to cut their weight.

Truth be told, running isn’t the easiest sport out there. Many people who try to embrace running as a hobby end up quitting. For you to enjoy running, you need to start slowly. Then progress your distance and speed as your body adopts the activity.

Boosts Your Feel Good Hormones

Another reason why running is growing popular is that it’s has benefits that goes beyond losing weight. Similar to many other sports, running makes your brain release endorphins.

Your brain releases hormones as a reaction to stress, pain or a strenuous activity. Sometimes your body can also release feel-good hormones after doing something pleasurable like having sex or watching an intriguing movie.

Endorphins improve your mood by helping reduce mental and physical stress. That means running is an excellent way to improve your mental wellbeing. When you think about it, running can also help you gain Vitamin D, which is good for your bone strength.


As already stated, running is the cheapest and most accessible sport in the world. All you need is a pair of shoes and a place to run. You can run around your neighborhood, your nearest park or in a designated running track.

Unless you’re planning to run professionally, you don’t need to invest in expensive shoes. You should focus on affordable shoes that give you comfort while running.

Consider buying shoes designed specifically for running. They have the inner and out soles fit for keeping your legs comfortable. Running shoes also provide proper traction and can protect you from water if you ever find yourself running in the rain.

The Treadmill

The treadmill revolutionized running. Gone are the days you needed to leave your house to work out. If you’re feeling out of shape and have a treadmill in your house, you don’t even need to find your running shoes.

A good treadmill can accommodate anyone under 400 pounds, meaning you don’t need to be slim to use this machine. Treadmills also come with features to personalize your experience—speed, inclination and distance.

We know—treadmills aren’t exactly cheap. Some of them cost more than a month’s rent in a major city like New York. Fortunately, you don’t need to buy a treadmill in this age of fitness centers in every city.

Most local gyms charge $10 or less for a month’s subscription. If you’re committed to improve your fitness, this is a small price to pay. After all, running doesn’t just cut your weight. It also helps you fight related illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Running is now a Social Activity

It is true. Running used to be a solo activity. But this isn’t the case anymore. Over the last few decades, millions of people have become avid runners. In so doing, running has forged a community of people who run together.

There are several benefits of running with other people. First, it motivates you to run regularly. You can’t get bored if you have company. Secondly, you can push one another to achieve your goals. Finally, you get to network with people who love running as much as you do.

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