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Could running be your 2020 health kick?

Could running be your 2020 health kick?

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January has ended (already!) and if experts are to be believed, the success of your new year’s resolutions could now be in the balance, if they haven’t already been discarded!

What is the secret to a good resolution? It’s so easy to dream big, then lose focus. I mean, Japanese is harder to learn than you expected, or the trombone mostly just squeaks if you don’t spend hours practicing! Perhaps the key is to make it achievable?

As someone who specialises in healthcare, it would be remiss of me not to recommend a healthy activity, and in my case, it’s a running objective that I’ve set myself. For anyone lucky enough to be able-bodied, I’d strongly recommend it.

If you gave running a try, you wouldn’t be the only one lacing up your shiny new shoes. Parkrun, the community running organisation, is perfect for entry level runners, or just social runners of all abilities, and so it is no surprise that there are now more than 2.3 million runners registered with Parkrun, spread across more than 160,000 locations around the country.

The distance is 5km, which experienced runners or fitness freaks might find easy and perfect to test their pace at the front of the pack, or to someone not so familiar to running it can be a test of will and determination to reach that finish line.

This isn’t just a fad, because as well as sponsorship from a well-known health insurer, Parkrun is now being actively recommended by doctors. To quote an article published by OnMedica, “The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and Parkrun UK launched the Parkrun practice initiative in 2018 to promote the social prescribing of physical activity through participation in local 5k Parkrun events.”

The article claims that “more than 16% of practices in the UK have now registered to become a Parkrun practice to encourage patients to participate…”

Of course, simplicity makes running accessible. Okay, appropriate footwear is essential and might cost a few quid, but the rest of the kit is basic and affordable. You don’t need a helmet, shin-pads or a bat of some kind (although, imagine that….), and most people can step out of their front door and get into their stride.

Having said that, it’s hardly surprising that technology has infiltrated the once unembellished past-time. GPS technology has changed all that and applications like Strava have combined the satellite mapping of users’ runs with addictive social media interactivity. Unsurprisingly, you can post your runs (or walks or cycles) for friends to see, and you can give ‘kudos’ to your friends for their efforts. It’s all about technology (GPS watch!) interaction and gamification, like so much nowadays.

Why not make it a social event and speak to friends or colleagues about joining each other on sports activities?  In a previous job, I set up a company running club. Okay, there were only two of us (hi Craig!), but it still makes the experience more enjoyable!  From an employer’s perspective, setting up or supporting a running club is a low-cost way to enhance employee health and improve engagement.

Ultimately, whether you commence an objective on January 1st or any other day in the calendar year, any pursuit that will improve one’s health is a worthwhile endeavour. Be it fad, ego boost or true passion, who cares? What matters is heeding the warnings from doctors about the dangers of inactivity, and a variety of health considerations attached to that.

Good luck to you, and keep it up!