As accredited physiotherapists, we know that an active lifestyle with regular exercise can give vast health benefits.
There are many different activities you could choose from, but one of our favourites and a national phenomenon is Park Run.
You may have ready heard of it or participated, but if you haven’t you don’t know what you are missing. Even if you think, as I did, “running is not for me.”
After a relatively active lifestyle chasing various balls around pitches or courts, the idea of running around a field couldn’t have been further from what I wanted to do each Saturday when I was asked if I wanted to do a Park Run.
In fact, I would rather have watched the grass in my back garden grow!
However, after just one Park Run, I was hooked.
Park Run began in 2004 in Bushey Park in London. It’s a 5k timed run that takes place every Saturday morning at 9 am.
The events take place at local parks, canals, stately homes, castles, rivers, lakes, beaches, nature reserves and even prisons and racecourses.
Park Run operates in over 1400 locations, and 22 countries worldwide, and over 5 million runners are now registered worldwide.
There undoubtedly will be one near you, and there is certainly a host of them near Physiotherapy Kent’s 4 locations in Gillingham, Beckenham, Greenwich and High Wycombe. Click here to find your local Park Run.
My first park run was an eye-opener. People decades older flew past me. I was also left in the trail of individuals pushing single and double pushchairs and I desperately failed at trying to keep up with ten or eleven-year-olds with endless, boundless energy.
I also was left wondering just how the smallest or biggest dog could run with such effortless ease yet manage to drag their owners around at such a ridiculously fast pace.
However, the experience also left me with a sense of amazement at the enthusiasm, support and encouragement of everyone involved.
Complete strangers were ready to offer words of encouragement and help push others along. The volunteers throwing high fives and shouts of support at every corner just blew me away.
What I loved was the differences in the ability of the runners – people running at (to me what looked like) the speed of Mo Farah to people barely just above a walking pace.
The sheer diversity of runners of all age, gender, culture, size, shape and athleticism makes it such an inclusive event.
The colours on show, the smiles, the effort, the optimism, the sense of doing something worthwhile and the overall community feel that is so seldom seen in this day and age.
The jubilation I felt at crossing the finish line. The sense of achievement in completing my first 5k, albeit with a few walking stops on the way around, is also something that I remember and continue to have to this day with every run, even as now I approach my 100th run and second free t-shirt.
The greatest thing about Park Run is that nobody cares what you are doing… it is not important how fast or slow you do it. It’s not important what you wear. It’s not important who finishes ahead or behind you. It’s getting out and doing it that counts and if you want to throw in some personal milestones then so be it.
The Benefits Or Running.
The benefits shouldn’t be underestimated. Most of the UK’s population’s weekly exercise is well under the recommended weekly minimum, and the physical benefits of running are vast.
However, recent research has also emphasised the positive effect Park Run has on mental health and well-being with increased confidence, reduced isolation, reductions in depression, anxiety, and stress all highlighted as benefits.
There are even volunteering opportunities at Park Run, for people who are unable to run which increases it’s inclusivity.
Undoubtedly Park Run creates a non-threatening and welcoming atmosphere for all.
Take the family, take your friends, take the kids, the parents or the dog.
If not – go on your own – you won’t be on your own for long!
We’re certainly pushing Park Run at Physiotherapy Kent Ltd. Many of our physiotherapists are active participants, and we endlessly explain the benefits to many of our clients.
We do have numerous clients we treat for running or sports injuries or others that are training for running events.
But Park Run can play a considerable part in injury and illness prevention as well as rehabilitation and recovery for many injuries if used correctly. Back pain, tendon injuries, muscle strains, ligament sprains and many more can all benefit from light to moderate exercise. The beauty of Park Run is that you can go at the pace that suits you, and there will be plenty of other people who are going at a similar pace.
It’s excellent for individuals with busy or sedentary lifestyles or those with demanding jobs that leave limited time to keep healthy. It really is a true lifestyle treatment that all can get involved in.
If you’re worried about an injury or even your ability to run a park run, please contact us at www.physiotherapykent.co.uk and one of our physiotherapists will be delighted to discuss this with you further.
Park Run is a joy and has something for everybody. You don’t need any specialist equipment. And best of all its absolutely free. So register online, collect your own bar code and get yourself down to your local course at 9 am next Saturday morning for all of the above and more.
We’ll see you there.