Advice line: parkrun enhances wellbeing so let's prescribe it for everyone

Parkrun is free, local, fun and enhances wellbeing so let's prescribe it for everyone, says Ruth Kent.

Parkruns are free 5k events, open to all, held every Saturday morning at more than 500 locations around the UK. I moved to a new city 18 months ago and, as a way to meet people, applied to be a run leader for a women’s beginners group. At the end of the course we all run 5k and ‘graduate’ at our local parkrun. See 
A week before graduation, I went along on my own. There were people of all ages and abilities, some with dogs and others running with pushchairs. There were volunteers along the way cheering us on. This is an environment that creates new friendships and reduces social isolation.
As a physiotherapist I am passionate about promoting health and wellbeing and always looking for places where people can become more active in a supportive environment that doesn’t cost money. Parkrun fits this brief. It’s free, local, on every week and no specialist equipment is required. There are also 2k junior parkruns for children, aged four to 14, on Sundays in 200 parks around the country.
Parkrun is inclusive, which is demonstrated through the parkrun running or volunteering for everyone (PROVE) project. Funded by the Department of Health, PROVE is designed to increase participation for people living with, or affected by, a long-term condition.
Last year parkrun published an online survey to gain insight into social prescribing of parkrun by health care professionals. Almost 1,900 people responded; 11 per cent were physiotherapists. Of those who answered, 63 per cent of physiotherapists had prescribed parkrun as an option for running or walking or volunteering. 
As physiotherapists, our role is to make a difference to people’s lives every day. Let us prescribe parkrun to everyone we come into contact with (#makeeverycontactcount) so that they, too, can experience the benefits. I can’t think of any other global initiative that has made such a positive impact on the lives of so many. 
  • Ruth Kent is parkrun outreach ambassador for overweight and obesity 
Ruth Kent parkrun outreach ambassador for overweight and obesity

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