Survey reveals healthcare professionals prescribing parkrun to boost the nation’s health

Here at Bathurst Physiotherapy, our physio staff often refer their patients to participate in parkrun as part of a rehab programme. This is also one of the main reasons why we decided to sponsor our local Bathurst parkrun and why we continue to support it. Parkrun recently published this article on their website about healthcare professionals suggesting Parkrun as a means of rehabilitation. Read an excerpt below;


"A survey of almost 2,000 healthcare professionals has revealed the significant extent to which parkrun is being prescribed to patients in the UK.

parkruns are free 5k events that take place in around 500 parks and open spaces around the UK every Saturday throughout the year, coordinated entirely by local volunteers. They are open to walkers and runners of all ages and abilities, with up to 120,000 people completing the 5k each Saturday and more than 10,000 volunteering.

The survey aimed to find out whether health care professionals are referring patients to parkrun (an example of ‘social prescribing’), why they might do so and how they are signposting people. For those who weren’t referring people to parkrun, the survey also sought to establish what the barriers might be and how these could be overcome.

Almost two thirds of those surveyed (63%) revealed they currently prescribe parkrun in some form, and this number increases to 72% of those surveyed who are registered with parkrun. 88% of those surveyed said that they would consider referring service users to parkrun.

The online questionnaire attracted responses from a wide range of health specialisms. GPs made up 26% of respondents, with 20% registered nurses and 11% physiotherapists. Occupational therapists, pharmacists and dentists also participated.

Social prescription is currently happening in a relatively informal way, with 91% of practitioners who have signposted to parkrun simply suggesting parkrun to patients and service users. 34% write down the name of the local parkrun event, with 28% showing the patient the parkrun website, 7% helping with registration and 8% actually accompanying the patient to the event.

The analysis revealed a wide range of motivations for prescribing parkrun. 93% do so to help improve the fitness of their patients, 78% do so to improve mental wellbeing, 62% to improve quality of life, 56% to increase self-confidence, 52% to improve self-care/self-management and 52% to make friends. Occupational therapists stood out as being relatively more likely to prescribe parkrun to help a patient make friends (68%) and reduce loneliness (50%).

Although the majority are recommending that people run or walk at parkrun, a third of health care professionals, especially nurses and occupational therapists, have suggested volunteering, with 17% suggesting patients spectate, possibly with a view to seeing if they would like to participate in future. This demonstrates an understanding of the varied health benefits that come from taking part in a range of different ways, suited to the needs of the individual patient.

parkrun’s Head of Health and Wellbeing Chrissie Wellington said: “We are really encouraged by the scale of the response and the findings of this research. It shows a broad awareness amongst a range of health care professionals of the health and wellbeing benefits of parkrun that go far beyond physical fitness, and a willingness to refer people to our events as a means of encouraging healthy, active lifestyles and supporting individuals to take greater control of their own health.”"


To continue reading this article, head to
Words and Images by Parkrun, 2017.

Bathurst Physiotherapy