Parkrun practices – a fantastic new collaboration to support your patients

It’s Saturday morning 8.55am. I’m gathering with around 200 people in Graves Park, Sheffield getting ready for the start of Graves parkrun. I recognise lots of patients from our practice – people living with MS, depression, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, as well as plenty of our patients I never see (I suspect doing parkrun is a great way of keeping you out of the doctor’s surgery!). I spot a few of our doctors with their kids and some nurses from the neighbouring practice. I can’t make it every week, but each time I do I’m flushed with pride that this was the parkrun event that our GP practice helped to set up six years ago and have promoted ever since. A huge number of our staff and patients get so much from volunteering, running, walking or even spectating at this weekly event; whether it be from the opportunity to socialise and make friends, improved fitness, skill development through volunteering, improved self-esteem and having a supportive community that you can always rely on.

I am convinced that parkrun is the single most effective, enduring community intervention that our GP practice has been involved with.

We are certainly not the only practice in the UK that has formed such a rewarding partnership with their local parkrun. So far over 420 practices have signed up for the ‘parkrun practice’ scheme, launched in June this year by parkrun in collaboration with Royal College of GPs. They have created a really easy registration process (which takes less than five minutes) and developed some excellent supporting resources to help practices get the most out of a partnership with their local parkrun event. I know first-hand what such a partnership can do for you, your team or your patients.

In the last few years parkrun has been very proactive in developing its reach and appeal to people living with health conditions. It has a whole team of ambassadors dedicated to specific support for a wide range of conditions. Parkrun data shows that musculoskeletal conditions are the most common long-term conditions that people identify on registration. Parkrun provides peer support via a closed Facebook group for people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions to share stories, advice and tips on parkrun, exercise and their condition in a supportive manner. This can be found by searching for ‘parkrun arthritis’ on Facebook.

To find out more, contact Dr Ollie Hart (@olliehart7 - Twitter).