More than 182,000 people took part in #GPparkrunPledge Day on Saturday 1 June to celebrate the first year of the groundbreaking parkrun practice initiative.
Launched in 2018 in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the parkrun practice initiative sees GP practices joining forces with their local parkrun event to form a link that encourages physical activity and volunteering to be used in improving the health and wellbeing of patients and staff.
One year into the initiative, there are now more than 1,200 parkrun practices across the UK, representing more than 10% of all GP practices.
To celebrate the anniversary, GP practices were encouraged to pledge their support for #GPparkrunPledge Day, with staff, doctors and patients all taking part together. The special celebration day also helped raise awareness of the parkrun practice initiative amongst health care professionals across primary and secondary care.
More than 5,000 general practice doctors, staff and patients pledged their support in advance, and the day itself saw nearly 10,000 additional walkers, joggers and runners participating nationally. 2,000 of those were first timer parkrunners (a 14% increase on previous weeks), with over 600 of them stating that they were inactive at the time of registration (a 4% increase).
Dr Zoe Williams, RCGP Clinical Champion for Physical Activity & Lifestyle and TV Doctor (above) helped us celebrate at Burgess parkrun in south London, where she was joined by local GPs taking part in their first parkruns
Dr Zoe Williams said: “I’m proud to have been part of #GPparkrunPledge Day, and it was fantastic to see such a diverse group of people out on the course. Whether that be walkers, children running with their parents, newcomers, plus so many GPs experiencing parkrun for the first time, all supported by so many enthusiastic volunteers.
The parkrun practice initiative has been a huge success so far, and as a GP, it’s invaluable to have a free, weekly, accessible, community-based event to recommend to patients”.
We also saw similar uplifting scenes at events all around the UK…
Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, and Alun Cairns MP, Secretary of State for Wales, joined several doctors taking part at Barry Island parkrun.
Dr Jonathan Salisbury from Court Road Surgery was presented with the surgery’s parkrun Practice certificate by Dr Atherton.
Meanwhile, Portmill Lane Surgery staff took part at Letchworth parkrun in Hertfordshire.
Dr Kate Price was one GP who joined us: “I ran with a bunch of colleagues today as part of the RCGP #GPparkrunPledge Day. I loved it, and I’ve subsequently signed our Practice up to be a parkrun Practice. It was my third parkrun, but it won’t be my last!”
Another GP, Dr Phil Trevail commented: “Great turnout from Carn to Coast Health Centres at Heartlands parkrun for #GPparkrunPledgeDay. 8 GPs and over 20 staff plus family members of all ages.”
Sarah Searle added: “Five of us from Town Gate Practice in Chepstow took part in Severn Bridge parkrun for #GPparkrunPledge Day! We had a great time. Lovely to see lots of friends and patients.
Alison Eaton: “The Havelock Grange Practice team all took part at Hartlepool parkrun!”
Dr Laura Davies also joined us: “There were three GPs and two nurses, plus families and buggies from Mount Pleasant Health Centre in Exeter at parkrun - gorgeous morning for it and lovely coffee afterwards.”
GPs and staff from Dyfed Road, Neath and Dulais Valley Primary Care Centre all went along to their local Gnoll parkrun!
parkrun’s Global Head of Health & Wellbeing Chrissie Wellington reflected on the day, and the impact so far: “The exciting and groundbreaking parkrun practice initiative with RCGP has been game-changing in bringing together parkrun and primary care.
In 12 months we have seen more than 10% of all GP practices link with their local parkruns to increase the health of staff and patients and create positive, supportive communities that are centred on wellness.
Each and every day we hear fantastic stories and case studies that demonstrate the impact the initiative has had on people’s lives.
This partnership shows the immense value of bringing together the health and voluntary sectors in pursuit of shared goals, and we look forward to building on this successful collaboration in future”.
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