Physical exercise, health, and post-socialist landscapes—recreational running in Sofia, Bulgaria

Andrew Barnfield*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The changes that have been brought about since the end of state socialism include modifications to the urban landscape of cities like Sofia, Bulgaria. There has been a decline in the number of green spaces, sports facilities and state-run sports programmes. The changing urban landscape has seen an increase in car travel, car parking and projects such as the Sofia Metro. Citizens from Bulgaria are among the least active in Europe; this has an enormous effect on the prevalence of obesity and non-communicable diseases. However, during the last decade, there has been an increase in recreational running, and in particular informal running clubs in Sofia. This paper uses recreational running to understand the changing landscape of post-socialist cities and its effect on techniques of public health. Using data from two in-depth qualitative case studies of informal running clubs from Sofia to examine the effects of the changing urban landscape on recreational fitness practices and well-being, the rationale of this paper is that this has the potential to generate fresh suggestions about the effective promotion of public health through exercise in view of how and where urban running is currently conducted in post-socialist landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-640
Number of pages13
JournalLandscape Research
Issue number6
Early online date12 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2016

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Urban and Public Policy Research


  • public health
  • physical activity
  • post-socialism
  • Sofia
  • Eastern Europe

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