GPs advising people to take part in parkruns to help fight the flab

GP surgeries in Norfolk and Suffolk are joining the parkrun practice initiative. Photo: Graham Smith

GP surgeries in Norfolk and Suffolk are joining the parkrun practice initiative. Photo: Graham Smith - Credit: Graham Smith

Patients in Norwich are being encouraged to take part in one of the growing number of parkrun events in the county as part of a drive to get them fighting fit instead of fighting illness.

Leiston Surgery has become one of the first practices in the country to 'prescribe' outdoor activity, including parkruns, to patients to improve their health.

This comes after calls for the NHS to prioritise prevention over cure and for people to take greater responsibility for their health.

A national campaign was launched by parkrun UK and the Royal College of General Practioners (RCGP) in June to encourage GP surgeries to refer patients to take part in the weekly events.

So far just one GP surgery in Norwich, Oak Street Medical Practice, in Oak Street, has joined the parkrun practice initiative.

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While it does not formally prescribe parkrun it actively promotes parkrun to staff and patients. Staff regularly take part in the Catton parkrun and volunteer on parkrun days.

Dr Chris Dent, from Oak Street Medical Practice, who regularly runs himself, said: 'We think parkrun is fantastic. It's not just about dedicated runners - people walk it, push their buggies, bring their dog and volunteer to staff it.

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'It gets everyone outside, into exercise and socialising so it's a really good way of promoting good health and trying to prevent ill health.

'Any form of physical activity such as gardening, walking, swimming or running has huge health benefits physically and psychologically.'

Parkrun is a free 5km timed run organised by volunteers. Thousands of people join the Saturday morning runs at dozens of locations, including Norwich, King's Lynn and Gorleston.

Norwich CCG said it supported the initiative, which it promotes through its Healthy Norwich programme with the Norwich City Council and Broadland District Council.

Healthy Norwich is also inviting schools to take part in the Daily Mile - where pupils and staff are encouraged to run one mile a day during the school day.

A Norwich CCG spokesman said getting young people to take up exercise at an early age not only improved their physical health but also their academic performance and concentration in class.

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