General Practitioners around Australia are being supported to refer patients to parkrun events as part of an exciting Community Partnership between parkrun Australia and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
The ‘parkrun Practice’ initiative aims to help GPs understand how parkrun may benefit some of their patients, start a conversation with those patients and their carers, and signpost patients who are interested in parkrun to their local event — particularly those who are the least active and have long-term health conditions.
GP practices will be encouraged to develop closer links with their local parkrun to become certified ‘parkrun practices’ and practice staff will also be encouraged to take part.
parkrun Australia’s Health and Wellbeing Lead Glen Turner said, “GPs around Australia have been successfully signposting people to parkrun events over many years for fresh air, physical activity and social connectivity. We want to scale this up and support more GPs to develop strong relationships with their local parkrun, for the benefit of patients, practitioners and practice staff.”
RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said, “I’m delighted to see parkrun Practices come to fruition, because it’s needed more than ever. As a GP I see firsthand how rising chronic illness, such as obesity and depression, is impacting patients, with the pandemic and restrictions only making matters worse – this is why the RACGP’s new community partnership with parkrun is so timely.”
“After a series of lockdowns and restrictions, it’s good to get moving again. We know companionship plus exercise in nature offers some of the best wellbeing effects possible. Social prescribing can make a real difference for the health and wellbeing of patients, and this partnership is a step in the right direction to seeing more widespread use of social prescribing across the country.”
The initiative builds on Australian-based research that revealed hundreds of healthcare practitioners already signpost patients to parkrun, and many others would like to be supported to do so. It mirrors the highly successful ‘parkrun practice’ initiative that was introduced in the UK in 2018 and in Ireland in 2020.
Dr Michelle Redford, one of parkrun Australia’s volunteer Health and Wellbeing Ambassadors said, “GPs see people from some of the hardest to reach sections of our community every day. We have good evidence that parkrun encourages increased levels of physical activity, especially among those who are not active, and these are the people who have the most to gain from moving more and being more socially connected.”
A parkrun practices website has been developed, which provides a toolkit for interested practices and a registration form to become a certified ‘parkrun Practice’.
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