The national parkrun initiative is a free weekly event that encourages people of all ages to keep active by participating in a 5km walk or run and, since last year, local GP practices have been developing close links with their parkrun to become ‘parkrun practices’ to highlight the health and wellbeing benefits of regular exercise to patients and staff.
And now this Saturday, approximately 22 members of staff from local GP practices, Public Health Suffolk and the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group are set to ‘takeover’ the duties of the regular volunteering team to cover roles such as timekeeping, marshalling and barcode scanning or will run / walk the route as participants.
The aim of this ‘NHS takeover’ is to encourage more people to recognise how participating in a parkrun can help them improve their fitness, make new friends, cope with health problems and socialise with others in an outdoor environment.
Since the launch of parkrun practices, in east Suffolk 13 GP practices have signed up.
Dr Dean Dorsett, a GP at Burlington Primary Care and a member of the Governing Body of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “From both a personal and professional point of view, it is fantastic to be part of the parkrun initiative. There is no doubt that physical activity is good for our physical and mental wellbeing. Walking, running, meeting new people and enjoying the delightful Christchurch Park is a great way of spending a Saturday morning.”
Sandra Price, Administration Team Lead at Barrack Lane Medical Centre in Ipswich, said: “We have now been a parkrun practice for the last three months. The parkrun is ideal for patients who would benefit from increasing their activity or by having the opportunity to socialise and be part of a friendly community. The aim of the linkup is to encourage active lifestyles to both patients and staff.
"I believe if someone is thinking about doing a bit more exercise the parkrun is a great place to start with the added bonus of it being free! You don’t have to be a runner to take part and you can do it at your own pace as there is no pressure to complete the course in a set time, it’s just about getting out there and being a bit more active. There is lots of support and encouragement along the way from the marshals and many people who have finished stay to cheer others on.”
Ipswich parkrun event director, Graham Rodgers, said: “I am so proud to be part of the parkrun GP practice initiative which has been embraced by the medical practices in the Ipswich area. The opportunity to encourage and promote the health and wellbeing of individuals, reducing the need for lifelong medication is something that Ipswich parkrun is passionate about.
“We would love to see as many NHS staff as possible on the day, to walk, run, volunteer or simply receive a well-earned round of applause for the incredible contribution they make to our community.”
Adam Baker, Most Active County Project Manager at Suffolk County Council, said: “Public Health Suffolk is delighted to be involved in the takeover.
“Through the Most Active County partnership, we have been working collaboratively with a range of organisations to integrate physical activity into as many aspects of life as possible. It is fantastic to have 13 practices signed up so far and our ambition is to see more GP practices partner with their local parkrun events in the county and become parkrun practices.
“We know that social prescribing can help to reduce the significant life-limiting effects of physical inactivity. Evidence suggests more of us would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse.”
Participating in parkrun is free and you just need to register once on the parkrun website http://www.parkrun.org.uk/ipswich/