parkrun Ireland teams up with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) to prescribe active lifestyles to patients and practice staff.
The Irish College of General Practitioners and parkrun Ireland have launched a groundbreaking initiative that could see thousands of patients being ‘prescribed’ outdoor, community-based physical activity rather than medication.
The initiative aims to improve the health and wellbeing of health care staff, patients and carers, reducing the need for lifelong medication. Ireland spent €498 per person on prescription and over the counter medicines in 2017, which is 20 % higher than the EU average*.
GP practices will be encouraged to develop closer links with their local parkrun events to become certified ‘parkrun practices’; with health care practitioners, patients and carers all being signposted to parkrun, particularly those who are the least active and have long-term health conditions.
parkruns are free, 5k events that take place every Saturday morning, year-round, in public areas of open space. Each event is accessible for people of all ages and abilities and coordinated entirely by local volunteers. There is also a 2k junior parkrun series for 4-14 year-olds and their families on Sunday mornings. People can take part by walking, jogging, running, volunteering or coming down to watch and support. There are currently 117 parkruns across Ireland, with more events starting regularly, many situated close to local GP practices.
Whether it is to be part of a supportive, welcoming community, gain fitness, make friends, learn different skills, try something new or be active in the fresh air. Everyone has their own reason to attend a parkrun. Many GP practice staff across the country have already reaped the personal benefits of participating in parkrun themselves, and are keen to see their colleagues and patients experience similar health and wellbeing gains. The parkrun practice initiative provides a framework to make that happen.
The initiative builds on the success of the UK parkrun practice initiative, where 1,500 GP practices have linked with their local parkrun with wide-ranging positive benefits for the practice, patients and whole communities.
Becoming a parkrun practice is straightforward. Interested practices should first speak to the event team at their local parkrun and then register online via the ICGP website.
Head of Health and Wellbeing at parkrun Global Chrissie Wellington
Building on the phenomenal success of the parkrun practice initiative in the UK, we are excited to launch this game-changing initiative in Ireland, in collaboration with the ICGP. The simple yet effective process of linking GP practices with parkrun events can have a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of patients, practice staff and the communities that they are part of; as well as supporting Ireland-wide efforts to grow social prescribing.
Dr. Tony Cox, Medical Director, ICGP
The link up with parkrun will encourage us to promote healthy lifestyles and socialisation opportunities for everybody. This will help to improve the physical and social and psychological wellbeing of all our staff and patient population.
I joined my local Lees Road parkrun in Ennis, Co Clare two months ago. I was welcomed and encouraged by the team of volunteers and by my fellow parkrun participants. I find it to be a place of safety, a supportive environment, with an equal mixture of personal challenge and pleasure being out in the fresh air. We come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all levels of fitness. All of us are welcome and the last person across the finishing line is cheered on and encouraged even more wildly than the first person past the post.
parkrun is for everybody. Saturdays at 09.30 is parkrun time. I have grown to love it.
I encourage all my GP colleagues to sign up and become parkrun practices. It will make an enormous difference to your own health and wellbeing and for your staff and patients. Tell your patients about the benefits of exercise and social participation. Sign up today on the ICGP website.
Dr Deborah Ryan, Meath Faculty of the Irish College of General Practitioners
Working in General Practice you see for yourself the effects of inactivity and social isolation. parkrun provides a wonderful opportunity for everyone to get exercise and social involvement in a welcoming and friendly environment. Having first-hand experience of parkrun makes it easier to encourage patients to attend. Multiple studies have shown the benefits of regular exercise in improving health and longevity for the population as a whole, and parkrun is a wonderful free resource that can help all of us achieve our exercise targets.
Dr Gerry Sullivan, Mary Street Medical Centre, Clonmel
I did my first parkrun more than three years ago. I wasn’t fit, and it was a cold wet day, but I felt incredible afterwards. So I tried it again, and I kept going back. I’ve now done almost 50 parkruns. It’s free and there’s a fantastic sense of community and friendship. You can walk, or jog, or run. Exercise can prevent heart disease, stroke, and has proven benefits for anxiety and depression, as well as reducing the risk of diabetes and dementia, which are two massive problems in Ireland. We encourage our staff and patients to take regular exercise and parkrun is the ideal way to do it. It’s fun, it sets you up for the weekend and there are always plenty of smiles!
Dr Liam Meagher and Dr Lucia Ganoon, Killenaule, South Tipperary
We were introduced to parkrun in 2017 by my brother, also a GP. I’ve now participated in over 40 parkruns. I recommend parkrun to patients and friends because they’re fun, friendly and free. You can walk, jog, run or volunteer. You can be active and social – two very important contributors to physical and psychological wellbeing.
parkrun supports local communities in organising free, weekly, timed 5k events and 2k junior events every weekend at 117 locations all over Ireland, with more than 9,000 people of all ages and abilities taking part each week as walkers, joggers, runners and volunteers.
The events are volunteer led and people in Ireland have volunteered over 73,000 times in the last 12 months.
Over 170,000 registered participants have run at parkrun Ireland events since it began in Ireland in November 2012. Originally launched in the UK in 2004, parkrun now has more than six million registrants globally and over 300,000 weekly participants.
For press and media enquiries contact parkrun Communications Manager Kirsty Woodbridge
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