85,000 to join special parkrun to celebrate NHS’s 70th birthday

More than 85,000 people are expected to take part in a special parkrun UK event on Saturday 9 June 2018 to celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday.

Backed by double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, parkrun for the NHS is the first event of its type.

Staff from all parts of the NHS, from doctors to domestics and paramedics to porters, will join runners, walkers and volunteers at more than 300 local parkruns to mark the contribution the NHS has made to the nation.

parkruns are volunteer-led 5k events that take place each Saturday morning in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and are open to walkers and runners of all ages and abilities. On 9 June, participants are encouraged to don NHS-themed attire, with NHS staff being encouraged to attend.

As well as recognising the NHS’s birthday, it is hoped that parkrun for the NHS will encourage new participants, including NHS staff, to get more involved in physical activity and volunteering.

Inactivity is a key cause of obesity, which it is estimated is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths each year.

Dame Kelly Holmes, a regular parkrunner who was a nursing assistant before joining the British Army and becoming a full-time international athlete, said: “The NHS is there for us in the best and worst of times, as my family and I experienced during my late mother’s illness last year. NHS staff work hard to support us and parkrun for the NHS is a perfect opportunity for people to show their support for the NHS in its 70th year. I too will be supporting the event on 9 June.”

Ian Dodge, NHS England’s national director of strategy and innovation, said: “We are delighted to have teamed up with parkrun to organise this event. The number of parkruns taking part is testament to the pride that people feel for the NHS and its staff. We encourage as many people as possible to get involved.

Chrissie Wellington, Head of Health and Wellbeing at parkrun, said: “We want to encourage healthcare practitioners to signpost people to parkrun, especially those who are least active and have long term conditions, because we know that participating in parkrun can help improve health and wellbeing. parkrun for the NHS is the perfect way for us to increase awareness of parkrun amongst the health service while at the same time paying tribute to the enormous contribution of NHS staff.”

Dr Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, said: “We recognise the benefits that being physically active brings for both a person’s mental and physical health. parkrun offers a fabulous opportunity for anyone and everyone to get involved and reap the rewards that exercise can bring. It’s social, it’s fun, and it’s good for you. As we approach the 70th anniversary of our NHS, I would encourage everyone to explore the ways in which they can make a difference to their health outcomes and consider lacing up your running shoes to take part in this special parkrun UK event.”

Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride added: “Being regularly physically active can be hugely beneficial to an individual’s physical, mental and emotional health. parkruns are an excellent way of keeping active, of being social, of making good use of a local environment or resource, and is an activity which the whole family can be involved in.”

Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton, said: “Participating in your local parkrun is a great way to get fit, for free.

“As a nation, we need to be healthier and more active to help reduce the risk of a range of conditions such as obesity, heart disease and to improve our mental health. These are issues that are putting pressure on the NHS, but that we can take steps ourselves to try and improve.”

For more details and to find your local event, visit the NHS70 website.