The barriers to entry for recreational running and jogging are among the lowest of any sport. A good pair of sneakers and comfortable clothing are all you really need to get in the game. And millions of Americans hit the pavement every day. In fact, more than a quarter of all adult Americans (26.4%) have gone running or jogging in the past year, according to Nielsen Scarborough research.
But there’s a big difference between running for fun and running for sport. Notably, far fewer people run competitively. According to Nielsen Sports Sponsorlink research, just 5% of adults in the U.S. regularly participate in a competitive foot races like a marathons, half marathons, triathlons or 5k races.
But whether they’re running to earn a medal and bragging rights or just to stay in shape, runners stand out from the general adult population. And what’s more important is that their affection for foot sprints can even shed light on their non-athletic habits.
For instance, online daters may want to take a jog through a park to meet their match. Those who have gone running or jogging in the past year are more 38% more likely to be single and never married.
Single or married, people who have gone running in the past year are also more likely to be employed, have a college degree and fall into higher income brackets than non-runners.
And don’t be fooled by geography. While New York City, Chicago and Boston are home to some of the most well-known marathons on the planet, you might think these metro areas would have the most runners per capita. But that’s not the case. In Houston, Salt Lake City and San Diego, 35% or more of the adult population has gone for a jog in the past year. Comparatively, the stats are 31% in Chicago, 28% in Boston and 26% in New York City.