Physical activity has almost endless benefits for physical and mental health and wellbeing. Those who achieve the UK Chief Medical Officer’s recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week, are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes (and those with diabetes are better able to manage their blood sugar), cancer and muscular-skeletal problems such as osteoarthritis and stroke – to name just a few. Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
As a nation, we do not get as much exercise as we should. The latest data shows that only 63% of men 52% of women achieve the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Sometimes we all need some support and a bit of motivation to get up and start moving more. That is why, as the Chief Medical Officer, I am so thrilled to see an initiative like parkrun thriving. I am also delighted to see the success of junior parkrun. It is well known that people are more likely to continue with sport and exercise if they do it with friends, and we know how important it is to make sure that exercise and sporting environments are open, fun and welcoming to all. I have only kept going with my running all these years because I go out mid-week with a friend.
parkrun delivers a space for people of all abilities, and all ages, to get our running shoes on and raise our heart rates with a supportive community that can help us to achieve our physical activity goals. parkrun is community led, and community facing, allowing local authorities to benefit the health of their population by simply supporting parkrun with a location, and helping it to be visible. The volunteers, the community and those at parkrun who drive this initiative forward deserve a huge amount of credit for what they have achieved so far, and I hope that more local authorities will provide support going forward so that parkrun continues to grow.
As Chief Medical Officer I endorse parkrun as a valuable and innovative vehicle for promoting physical activity. It is fun, engaging, and provides an environment to meet people and benefit your health. I regularly tell my friends and colleagues about parkrun, and so should all of you – we must spread the word!
Dame Sally Davies
Chief Medical Officer for England