92% of women runners say they're concerned about safety during outdoor runs: survey
A new survey commissioned by Adidas suggests nine in 10 women are concerned about their safety while running.
The international survey, which consulted 9,000 people from the U.S., Mexico, U.K., France, Germany, United Arab Emirates, China, Japan and South Korea, found that women feel less secure on outdoor runs compared to men.
The survey gathered responses from an equal split of women and men from Dec. 17, 2022, to Jan. 6, 2023, and the respondents were between ages 16 and 34.
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The Adidas-commissioned survey focused on seven safety-focused questions, and the German multinational sportswear manufacturer released its findings Friday, March 10.
1. More than half of women runners take safety precautions
The survey claims 69% of women runners say they take safety precautions before a run so they can "feel safe." Some of the precautions include wearing loose clothing or finding a running partner who can offer protection.
2. Nine in 10 women runners have safety concerns
Ninety-two percent of women reportedly have safety concerns about outdoor running.
The report that accompanies Adidas’ survey did not disclose whether the consulted male respondents (and those who identify as men) have safety concerns about outdoor running or take safety precautions before they go out on a run.
3. Half of women runners are afraid of being attacked
Fifty-one percent of the women consulted for Adidas’ survey say they’re "afraid of being physically attacked" during a run.
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Slightly more than a quarter of men — 28% — say they have the same fear.
FILE - Runners make their way around the 13km course during Nike She Runs The Night at Centennial Park on May 3, 2012, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Marianna Massey/Corbis via Getty Images)
4. More than a third of women runners say they’ve experienced harassment
Thirty-eight percent of the women surveyed say they’ve "experienced physical or verbal harassment" while out on a run.
5. Half of women runners say they’ve received unwanted attention while running
There were four forms of harassment that were named in the survey, and about half of women runners say they’ve experienced at least one of the four forms of harassment while running in public.
The four forms of harassment include receiving unwanted attention (56%), hearing sexist comments or receiving unwanted sexual attention (55%), being honked at (53%) or being followed (50%).
6. Half of women runners have running-related anxiety that’s reportedly linked to harassment
The survey reports that the women runners who’ve been harassed during a run "were significantly more likely than men to suffer mental and physical side effects as a result."
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Slightly more than half of women runners — 53% — experience running-related anxiety while only a little over a third of men runners — 38% — experience the same feeling.
The survey also found that four in 10 women believe they experience "heightened feelings of vulnerability," which is higher than the three in 10 men who believe they experience the same feeling.
Responses from the survey suggest that women lose interest in running at a higher rate than men. Forty-six percent of the women surveyed say they lose interest in running compared to 33% of the men surveyed.
7. More than half of men say they know about the safety concerns women have while running
The commissioned survey reports that 62% of men know that women have safety concerns around outdoor running, but only 18% of men believe men have a "responsibility" to "help women feel safer when running."
Two attacks on women runners have been documented in 2023
Stories of women getting attacked while running outside have made global, national and local headlines for decades, and a few have already occurred in 2023.
In Illinois, an unidentified 47-year-old woman was assaulted by a man who put his arms around her shoulders while she trailed behind her run club in St. Charles Feb. 13 at around 6:48 p.m., according to a report from Runner’s World, a global magazine for runners of all skill levels.
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The man reportedly fled after the woman screamed and fought to free herself from his grasp.
In Australia, a 28-year-old woman was hit in the head by a man who used a "handmade weapon" that consisted of a rock and tree branch, according to 7NEWS, an Australian news service.
She was attacked while she ran by a picnic area in Ballarat, Victoria, Feb. 11, some time between 4:20 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and suffered facial injuries, authorities reported.
While stopping unexpected attacks is impossible, self-defense experts told Fox News Digital that runners can take safety precautions that can lower their chance of becoming a target of opportunity, which includes alternating running routes, being alert and taking in surroundings and having spatial awareness.
Safety experts also recommend sharing planned locations with trusted family members and friends, carrying an optional personal alarm or another device that can call for backup in an emergency and basic self-defense skills.
Adidas wants men to help women runners
Adidas commissioned its survey in partnership with White Ribbon, a Canada-based grassroots charity that aims to prevent attacks "against women and girls by educating men and boys."
The sportswear company reports that its partnership with White Ribbon fits the brand’s larger Runners initiative and With Women We Run initiative, which encourages men and women to participate in running.
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"We believe sport should be equal, and safety is essential to creating that reality," Sina Neubrandt, a global communications director of the women’s division at Adidas, said in a statement.
"We know from our communities and our research that safety is the most discussed topic when it comes to women and running. And, unfortunately, women continue to be made responsible for protecting themselves," Neubrandt added. "Addressing this issue is a marathon, not a sprint, and our campaign will not solve this overnight, but if we can encourage more men to understand their role as allies, we can create progress and, hopefully, change."
To drive home its point about the safety concerns women have about running, Adidas created a 49-second video, "The Ridiculous Run," which shows a group of women running at night with guards who are driving cars or riding motorcycles alongside them.
"This is ridiculous," the video’s onscreen text says. "So is 92% of women feeling unsafe when they run."
Social media users and the public have yet to respond to Adidas’ online campaign.
Last year, Samsung Electronics faced backlash from viewers who thought the technology company’s advertisement that depicts a woman running down city streets at 2 a.m. with headphones on to be unrealistic.
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Samsung apologized for the "Night Owls" ad but maintained that its one-minute clip was made to highlight individuality and encourage people to work out whenever they want, according to AdAge, a marketing and media news outlet.
Adidas reports that more than 120,000 users of its Adidas Running app have signed a digital pledge to "never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women."
The company says it has expanded its With Women We Run by Adidas Runners campaign to 49 countries and 72 communities.
The campaign’s goal is to play "a role in ending harassment and any forms of violence against women to transform running culture," according to Adidas.