Back to news

GPs in Lewisham prescribe parkrun for patients


GP practices are encouraging their patients and staff to join their local parkrun in a bid to get healthier and feel better.

Parkruns are free (run by volunteers), weekly, 5km timed runs that are open to all and conducted in a safe and supportive environment. With the option to run, walk or jog around designated open spaces (with or without a dog or baby buggy), this popular Saturday morning pursuit has gained many supporters in and outside the medical profession.

In 2018, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the organisers of parkrun launched a ground-breaking initiative to enable the 'prescribing' of outdoor physical activities with the aim to reduce the need for lifelong medication and provide an alternative.

Known as parkrun practice, this initiative is an excellent example of social prescribing to improve the health and wellbeing of staff, patients and carers.


Celebrating one year of parkrun practice - with a pledge

Saturday 1 June, is the first anniversary of parkrun practice. To celebrate and encourage more practices to develop closer links with their local parkrun and become certified parkrun practices, the RCGP are asking staff to pledge to parkrun on 1 June.

Three of Lewisham's GP practices have already signed up to the initiative (Grove Medical, Hilly Fields and Wells Park) and they're keen to encourage others to attend and take part at one of the local events this Saturday.

Demonstrating how primary care services across Lewisham are working together to improve the health and wellbeing of residents, Dr John McGuinness said "We've been referring patients down to parkrun and we're starting to get some really good stories from them. Some patients have lost weight, some patients have started 'couch to 5k'. They're making new friends, meeting new people and getting outside - and it's free! It's something to do on a sunny morning on a Saturday, so it's brilliant."

Dr Rachel Forgan said "My personal feeling is I actually do much more good for people's health by going out and being part of a parkrun community, than I do when I'm sitting for an hour in my surgery. I have seen patients at our surgery whose health has improved, who have lost weight, who have improved their exercise and their illnesses have got better controlled through attending parkrun."

Watch our short film with staff and patients at a local parkrun.


Find out more about parkrun, parkrun practice and pledge to take part on 1 June 2019

Local parkruns include:
  • Hilly Fields, Ladywell
  • Catford, Mountsfield Park
  • Southwark Park, Rotherhithe
  • Crystal Palace Park
  • Beckenham Place Park