General practices across the UK are being encouraged to apply to become ‘Parkrun practices’ as part of a joint initiative by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and Parkrun UK.
The initiative could see thousands of patients being ‘prescribed’ physical activity instead of medication and improve the quality of life for practice staff, patients and carers, the RCGP said.
Parkruns are free, volunteer-led 5k events that take place every Saturday morning across the UK.
Developing closer links with their local Parkrun will help healthcare practitioners signpost patients and carers to Parkrun, particularly those who are the least active and have long-term health conditions, the RCGP said.
RCGP clinical champion for physical activity and lifestyle Dr Andrew Boyd, who is involved in the initiative, said: ‘GPs and their teams play a key role in encouraging and empowering their patients to get more active in the best interests of their health.’
The benefits of Parkrun
Parkrun says research last year showed that hundreds of UK healthcare practitioners were already highlighting Parkrun to patients.
Through this initiative, the RCGP and Parkrun hope to continue to raise awareness amongs GPs and practice staff, of Parkrun and ‘the positive impact physical activity and volunteering can have on health and wellbeing’.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘Parkrun is a diverse, fun and free way of getting our patients up and moving, and empowering them to make basic lifestyle changes in the best interests of their long-term health and wellbeing.’
How to become a ‘Parkrun practice’
The process to become a certified ‘Parkrun practice’ is straightforward: practices are required to fill in a form expressing their interest on the RCGP website, contact their local Parkrun, designate a person that will be the main contact within the practice, and liaise with the local Parkrun team on how to implement the partnership.
The RCGP and Parkrun put together guidance for practices, including ideas of activities, which can be found in their Parkrun practice toolkit.
Practices will be encouraged to display their Parkrun certificate in the waiting room and should be committed to promoting Parkrun through social media or flyers, for instance.