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5 Jan 2021, 19:00
On June 1st, GP practices across England will be celebrating the first anniversary of the parkrun practice initiative.
More than 900 general practices have now signed up to be a ‘parkrun practice’; linking with their local parkrun events to promote the health and wellbeing of patients and staff.
A parkrun practice can play a key role in empowering patients to make positive behaviour changes – educating them to recognise the link between their health conditions and lifestyle. With individuals from the practice joining the events, and encouraging patients to do the same, practices can help develop a local community and environment centred around wellness generation.
Parkruns are volunteer-led 5k events that take place each Saturday morning across the UK and are open to walkers, runners and volunteers of all ages and abilities. There are currently 620 such events, with about 150,000 people taking part every single weekend.
To celebrate the anniversary of the initiative, parkrun and RCGP have again teamed up to organise a national GP parkrun Pledge Day.
The aim is to encourage GPs and general practice staff across the UK to pledge, in advance, to join thousands of walkers, runners and volunteers at parkrun events on Saturday 1 June.
The GP parkrun pledge day is the first event of its type, and builds on the success of last year’s celebration across hundreds of parkruns to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday.
That day saw more than 146,000 people take part in parkrun, with a 14 per cent increase in the number of participants who were inactive when they registered and 9,000 people participating for the very first time.
All the information about the day, including the pledge form, can be found here.
Kevin Barrett, GP at New Road Surgery in Rickmansworth, commented “The parkrun practice movement is a great initiative to get surgery staff, as well as patients, out into the open green spaces across Hertfordshire. As a keen runner myself, it’s been great to see so many colleagues and patients out enjoying the fresh air, especially those who haven’t run or walked before. Taking part in parkrun is a fantastic way to start off the weekend!”
NHS England’s National Director of Strategy and Innovation, and passionate parkrunner, Ian Dodge, is among those championing the parkrun practices initiative and the Pledge Day.
He said: “What a start! 800 parkrun practices in just one year is a hugely impressive achievement. It’s more than 10 per cent of the country. If parkrun and the RCGP can keep up this momentum, the majority of GP practices in England will be involved within another four years. And thousands more people would benefit from the green spaces, the fresh air, the exercise, and above all the companionship and sense of community.
“Parkrun is always there for you, every Saturday morning. It first got me into running back in 2006 when it was called the Bushy Park Time Trial. The event on 1st June will be very special, and I’m really looking forward to tying my laces.”
GPs and TV personalities Dr Zoe Williams and Dr Rangan Chatterjee, as well as the Chair of the RCGP, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, are also lending their support.
It is hoped that the Pledge Day on 1 June will help raise awareness of parkrun across the health sector, encourage practice staff to signpost patients and service users to parkrun and promote sustained participation by those who are least active or have health conditions.