Science & Medical |

GPs get behind parkrun to counter rising chronic health problems

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is launching a new initiative to encourage GPs around Australia to prescribe parkrun as a remedy for patients with chronic health problems.

Launch details

·    What: RACGP sports medicine spokesperson Dr Gill Cowen will lead local GPs, their families and pets in a 5km circuit along the Swan River, walking, jogging or running.

·    When: 8am start on Saturday 14th March, International Social Prescribing Day

·    Where: Jeff Joseph Reserve, Applecross

The initiative comes after a report from RACGP and the Consumer Health Forum (CHF) recommended that social prescribing be incorporated into routine health care in Australia.

Social prescribing offers an innovative solution to counter rising chronic health problems, such as obesity, depression, anxiety and loneliness – broader adoption across the health system could help reduce demand on Medicare.

It involves the referral of patients to non-medical activities, from meditation to fitness programs like parkrun.

parkrun launched in Australia in 2011 and organises free weekly events in parks across the country, giving people the opportunity to get active and connect with others in their community. 

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon welcomed the RACGP’s new initiative with parkrun, saying it was a positive step toward expanding social prescribing in Australia.

“While some GPs are already using social prescribing in Australia, we need more resourcing and recognition to implement it in a sustainable way and improve access for patients.”

“While many GPs know social prescribing could improve their patients’ health and wellbeing, they don’t have formal or well established links to any local community activities and programs that could help.

Sports and Exercise Medicine Specific Interest Network Chair, Dr Gill Cowen, said the RACGP’s new initiative with parkrun stands to make a real difference in people’s lives.

“We have seen a similar partnership have great success in the United Kingdom, where parkrun was founded and more than 1500 general practices have signed up as parkrun practices.”

“It’s exciting to see this initiative now launching in Perth – it might seem like a small thing but we know that something as simple as joining a local walking group can make a huge difference in a person’s life, improving their health and wellbeing.” 


Media contact

Ally Francis
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About the RACGP

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) was established in 1958 and is Australia’s peak general practice representative organisation.

The RACGP has more than 41,000 members working in or towards a career in general practice across metropolitan, regional and rural areas of the country. Nine in every 10 GPs are with the RACGP.

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