GP parkrun crowd reinforces social prescribing momentum

Jolyon Attwooll

5/08/2022 3:56:35 PM

Dozens of GPs gathered in the one place for a parkrun − and to spread the word about social prescribing and its wellbeing benefits.

Parkrunners, Cairns parkrun
An enthusiastic line-up of health professionals enjoyed the beautiful location of the Cairns parkrun. (Image: Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine)

Have there ever been more GPs participating in the same Australian parkrun?
Those pictured above included health professionals, many of them GPs, as well as their family members, all lining up for the Cairns parkrun last weekend (30 July).
They were in the north Queensland city as part of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine’s ‘Evolution of Practice’ conference, which aimed to build knowledge about how lifestyle medicine can help prevent and manage chronic diseases.
Several college members attended the event, where the RACGP was the ‘Wellbeing partner’, with one of the objectives being to spread the word about the parkrun practice initiative.
Set up earlier this year to promote the health and wellbeing of patients and staff, the partnership encourages practices to strengthen links to local events by becoming parkrun practices.

Among the attendees and the parkrun participants was Dr Michelle Redford, a GP who is one of Australia’s parkrun health and wellbeing ambassadors.
She was pleased so many people were present for the 7 am start, including new recruits to parkrun.
‘It was great fun, a great atmosphere,’ Dr Redford told newsGP.

‘It’s in a beautiful spot. We had more than 50 people come along, and for lots of [them] it was their first parkrun experience.’

Dr Redford says that most GPs are already socially prescribing, but believes the conference and the turnout at the parkrun event show appetite for the concept, as well as its growing momentum.

‘There’s huge potential for social prescribing, and we haven’t really tapped into the full potential of it in Australia yet,’ she said.

‘Parkrun practices are a really straightforward example of social prescribing for people who may be new to the concept. It’s really accessible [and] it’s all over the country.’

Taking part benefits GPs, their practices, as well as patients, according to Dr Redford.

‘We all do a sedentary, fairly isolated job, more so since the beginning of the pandemic,’ she said.

‘Individually, parkrun can be a great thing for GPs and practice teams, for social connection and for moving.

‘[It is even] more so for their patients because we still struggle to engage people who need access.

‘The people who need exercise the most are the hardest to reach.’

While impressed with the turn-out in Cairns, Dr Redford is now keen to increase the number of GPs taking part in the same parkrun in the future.
‘We’ll beat [the number] if I can get it on the program at GP22, which is my current ambition,’ she said.
A number of resources for the parkrun practice initiative, including posters and social media assets, are available for download on the RACGP website.

Editor’s note: this article was updated on Monday 9 August to correct the start time for the Cairns parkrun (7 am). 

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