Launched in June last year by the RCGP and parkrun UK, the ‘parkrun practice’ initiative asked GPs to affiliate themselves with their local parkrun and signpost patients and carers - particularly those who are inactive or have long-term health conditions - to the free weekly 5km events.
More than 700 practices across the UK have joined the parkrun practice scheme and the drive to find 1,000 GPs to take part in a run next month aims to build on this.
A webpage set up by the RCGP and parkrun reads: ‘To celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of parkrun practice, 'pledge to parkrun' hopes to get 1,000 GPs to take part in a parkrun on 1 June 2019.
By taking part in the free 5km event, GPs can help raise awareness of parkrun amongst healthcare staff and patients and encourage more primary care professionals to get involved.
Just under 100 family doctors have pledged to parkrun on 1 June so far, and GPs have been promoting the event on social media using the hashtag #GPparkrunpledge.
I have been excited about this and very pleased to receive an email in my work email inbox today about the #GPparkrunPledge event on 1st June.@rcgp @parkrunUK @DocRunner1 #parkrunpractice #loveparkrun— Abbie (@AbbieSBrooks) May 1, 2019
I will be running and writing the run report... I think it’ll be run 49! ???? pic.twitter.com/OnsCeYdowp
Events set up by parkrun UK take place at over 500 locations across the UK every Saturday morning and participants are invited to run or walk their local 5km course. They are set up by volunteers and are suitable for people of all ages and abilities.
Speaking at the RCGP’s annual conference in 2018, RCGP physical activity and lifestyle champion Dr Andrew Boyd said the parkrun scheme had proved ‘so much of a success so quickly’ that it should become ‘a blueprint for what a modern day general practice surgery can look like moving forward’.
Also speaking at the event, Southport GP and parkrun health and wellbeing ambassador Dr Simon Tobin described how his own practice was ‘transforming patients’ lives’ through its affiliation with parkrun.
Dr Tobin’s case studies included one patient who had managed to reverse his type 2 diabetes after he started running weekly with parkrun and another blind patient who was able to run for the first time with a guide at her local parkrun and went on to complete the London marathon.
He said: ‘Physical activity is probably the best medicine that any of us can prescribe… [and] talking to those patients who least look like runners who are going to benefit most.'
The RCGP has published guidance for practices, and says becoming a parkrun practice is 'straightforward'.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said:'The RCGP partnership with parkrun has captured the imagination of GPs and their teams right around the UK. The walk or run approach makes exercise accessible and inclusive, and the pledge day on 1 June is a good way of encouraging more practices to sign up and take part.'