GP PRACTICES across Hambleton and Richmondshire are being urged to become “parkrun practices” to help patients improve their fitness and increase social interaction.

NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has written to all 22 of the GP practices within the group, encouraging them to develop close links with their local parkrun.

Parkruns are free, 5K events which take place in hundreds of areas of open space around the UK every Saturday morning. People taking part can walk, run or volunteer, with the emphasis on regular participation rather than performance.

Most events start and finish near a local café, with participants encouraged to meet up after the event to socialise.

The CCG say as well as improving the health and wellbeing of staff and patients – reducing the need for lifelong medication – they also help develop a community and environment centred around wellness. In addition, it supports the UK-wide movement to increase “social prescribing activities”.

Sarah Beech, is the CCG’s parkrun representative as well as the Northallerton parkrun’s co-event director. She said: “This initiative and the support the CCG is providing is such a fantastic step.

“It’s wonderful to see organisations working together to benefit the health and wellbeing of the community, which is what parkrun is really about.

“It’s not just running – in fact you don’t even have to run to take part.

“Just come along to a local event from 9am on a Saturday and walk, run, jog, volunteer or even watch and see what it’s all about; the benefits of taking part are real.

“It changed my life and health and I feel lucky to live and work in an area where the benefits are recognised and are being actively promoted.”

Janet Probert, chief officer of the CCG said: “Whether people want to improve their fitness, make new friends, cope with health problems, learn new skills or simply be outside with others, parkrun has a positive impact on health and wellbeing and changes lives.

“As a keen runner myself and a regular attendee at parkrun events, I’m really excited that this new initiative has been launched and will do all I can to help promote.”

Through this initiative, the RCGP and parkrun hope to continue to raise awareness amongst GPs and practice staff of parkrun and the positive impact physical activity and volunteering can have on health and wellbeing.