Thousands of patients could be ‘prescribed’ outdoor physical activity rather than medication

Parkrun UK and the Royal College of General Practitioners are set to launch a groundbreaking initiative that could see thousands of patients being ‘prescribed’ outdoor physical activity rather than medication.

GP practices will be encouraged to develop closer links with their local parkrun to become certified ‘parkrun practices’, with health care practitioners signposting patients and carers to parkrun, particularly those who are the least active and have long-term health conditions. Many practice staff across the country have already reaped the personal benefit of taking part. We know that experiencing parkrun for yourself is a great way to appreciate the benefits and share them with patients.

Dr Minesh Patel, local GP and Clinical Chair at Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG said: “This is a great initiative that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of health care staff, patients and carers, which in turn should reduce the need for lifelong medication. Colleagues at Moatfield Surgery regularly take part in the parkrun and really enjoy both the social and fitness aspect of it.” 

There are currently 535 parkruns across the UK with more events starting every week, many situated close to local GP practices. They are free, 5k events that take place every Saturday morning year-round in public areas of open space. Each event is coordinated entirely by local volunteers and they are accessible for people of all ages and abilities. There are also 220 2k junior parkruns for 4-14 year-olds and their families on Sunday mornings.

There is no need to run at parkrun and junior parkrun – thousands of people walk the events or join in as volunteers or spectators. Whether it is to be part of a supportive, welcoming community, gain fitness, make friends, learn new skills, try something new or simply be active in the fresh air, everyone has their own reason to attend a parkrun.

The initiative builds on research conducted by parkrun UK in 2017* that revealed hundreds of healthcare practitioners who are aware of the wide-ranging benefits of active lifestyles to health and wellbeing are already signposting patients to parkrun. It aims to further increase awareness amongst GPs, and all practice staff, of parkrun and the positive impact physical activity and volunteering can have on health and wellbeing.

Why not give the parkrun a go? The Tilgate parkrun is every Saturday from 9am – click here for more details.