Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith is campaigning to encourage GP surgeries in his constituency to become ‘parkrun practices’.
Mr Smith is supporting the initiative launched by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and parkrun UK to encourage the “prescribing” of parkrun events for patients who would benefit.
After taking part in an event to boost awareness of the scheme in Newport recently Mr Smith, a keen parkrunner himself, has written to every GP practice in Blaenau Gwent to encourage forging closer ties with the area’s two parkrun events – Parc Bryn Bach and Aberbeeg.
So far Blaenau Gwent has one surgery already signed up as a ‘parkrun practice’ – Glan Rhyd in Beaufort – and Mr Smith recently paid a visit to speak with the practice’s parkrun advocate, practice nurse Cath Cross to hear about how easy is it to get involved.
Mr Smith said: “Becoming a parkrun practice is about GPs and their staff signposting patients to parkrun, particularly those who have long-term health conditions.
“I think this is a fantastic idea.
“Parkrun is free, the environment is welcoming and inclusive and I know first-hand the benefits of taking part.
“You don’t need to run to get something out of it. Plenty of people walk the course or even just join in as volunteers or spectators.
“This is not just about the physical and mental benefits of exercising but the benefits of socialising and becoming part of a supportive community.”
Mr Smith added that as well as speaking to patients about the benefits of parkrun, the RCGP suggest that a ‘parkrun practice’ can also raise awareness through things like displaying parkrun ﬂyers and posters, creating a parkrun noticeboard in waiting rooms, displaying information about parkrun on television screens and including a parkrun page on the practice website.
Mr Smith is a proponent of healthy lifestyles and has spoken in parliament many times on topics such as tackling childhood obesity and promoting physical activity to curb long-term health issues.
Mr Smith said: “Obesity is the cause of all sorts of major health issues, and is now the UK’s biggest cause of cancer after smoking.
“Getting more people up and active would ultimately help reduce the impact of the chronic health conditions GPs and staff see every day.
“Becoming involved is not a major undertaking and benefits everyone in the long run. I hope to see practices signing up not just in Blaenau Gwent but across South Wales.”
More advice on how to get involved and what becoming a parkrun practice involves is available at www.rcgp.org.uk/clinical-and-research/our-programmes/clinical-priorities/parkrun-practice.aspx