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GP surgery will become the first in Suffolk to ‘prescribe’ parkrun to patients

Runners take part in the first Sizewell parkrun   Picture: Nick Butcher

Runners take part in the first Sizewell parkrun Picture: Nick Butcher

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A GP practice is to become the first in Suffolk to ‘prescribe’ parkrun to patients who would benefit from a more active lifestyle.

Runners take part in the first Sizewell parkrun   Picture: Nick ButcherRunners take part in the first Sizewell parkrun Picture: Nick Butcher

In June, a scheme was launched by parkrun UK and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to allow doctors to prescribe outdoor activity rather than medication to improve their patients’ health.

Now it has been announced The Leiston Surgery will be the first in Suffolk to become a “parkrun practice” – and the hope is many others will follow.

GPs at the surgery will now promote the parkrun event at nearby Sizewell to patients they feel could benefit from more physical activity.

Parkrun is a free 5k event held at multiple locations every Saturday morning at 9am, which people can walk, jog or run.

Former ironman triathlon world champion Chrissie Wellington, global head of health and wellbeing at parkrun, said: “This exciting and game-changing initiative with the RCGP is a tremendous opportunity for all staff and patients to realise the wide-ranging health benefits that parkrun participation can bring, and we are delighted to see that the concept is being embraced in Suffolk.”

Dr Juno Jesuthasan, of Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, said physical activity was one of the major health problems facing the UK in the 21st century.

He said: “Many staff at GP practices already actively engage with their patients on how taking more exercise can bring a host of health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

“The parkrun practice is an initiative that we support and hope that other GP practices will sign up and encourage many more people to get active.”

Councillor James Reeder, cabinet member for health at Suffolk County Council, said: “This is great news for Suffolk and our ambition is to see more GP practices partner with their local parkrun events in the county and become parkrun practices. We know that social prescribing can help to reduce the significant, life-limiting effects of physical inactivity.

“One in 12 patients would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse.”

Other GP practices in Suffolk are being urged to follow Leiston’s lead and link to other events around the county.

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