DOCTORS have long promoted the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Pills and medication will always have their place for treating certain complaints and conditions, but when it comes to maintaining good health professionals are always keen to promote exercise and healthy eating.

Keeping active is imperative both to physical and mental health and while he isn’t writing out prescriptions for patients to join his local parkrun, Bingley GP Dr Alan Salter is certainly keen to make sure actions speak louder than words.

Dr Salter became involved in parkrun, part of a national movement, through his own enjoyment of running and keeping active.

Joining the local parkrun was something he could do with his family too - one of the many benefits parkrun can bring.

People participate with prams and pets, you don’t need any level of fitness, it’s a free-for-all 5k event and for the many who turn up to their weekly parkrun it’s fun.

Having experienced the personal benefits, Dr Salter was keen to promote parkrun on a professional level. After learning parkrun was coming to Bingley - while living in Leeds before moving to Horsforth he had participated in the parkrun at Hyde Park in the city after stopping playing regular football - he was eager to get involved and, along with his colleagues, is now passing on the benefits to patients by profiling parkrun through information around the waiting room, on consultation room doors and through the practice’s social media platforms.

“Patients don’t leave our consultation rooms with ‘paper prescriptions’ for parkrun, however promoting this idea that undertaking regular physical activity can potentially reduce or even eliminate in some cases the need for tablets is one that we look to encourage whenever possible. It is crucial that we do what we can to motivate our patients to engage with and take responsibility for their own health. It’s a great thing to be a part of,” says Dr Salter.

The 32-year-old, who qualified as a GP in 2016 and has been working as a GP at Bingley Medical practice since qualifying, is a great advocate for his local parkrun and views it as a way of motivating people to get active by participating in a free event at the heart of their community.

To demonstrate their encouragement, he along with colleagues staged a ‘take over’ at the Myrtle Park parkrun in Bingley on March 23 by volunteering at the event.

“The idea was to raise the profile - we are promoting parkrun to our patients and want to lead by example with that,” explains Dr Salter, who is already seeing the benefits among patients.

“People have lost weight, they feel better physically and mentally,” he says.

“We want to increase our links with the parkrun in years to come. It is an exciting start of a fruitful journey for us and our patients,” adds Dr Salter.

Mother-of-three, Catherine Watkins, was instrumental in helping to bring parkrun to Bingley. Catherine enjoyed running and after participating in the Skipton Parkrun with her husband Steve, and family, she was keen to bring it closer to home.

“We love the atmosphere and the inclusive nature of parkrun,” says Catherine.

“We had wanted to put a parkrun in Bingley for some time. Skipton is obviously quite a drive away and Bradford parkrun was growing so exponentially it seemed obvious that there was space for one in between.

“As parkrun is completely free, it means that all the surrounding parkruns can work cooperatively together - we had an enormous amount of help from Skipton’s team and we sometimes have to ‘borrow’ volunteers.

Catherine’s husband Steve is an event director along with fellow run directors, Sam Swift, Becky Holmes, Dave Stephenson and Anna Bedford.

“Being part of parkrun also means that we benefit from being part of the wider parkrun community - which is enormous. There’s so much online support for new runners, those wanting to progress their time - there’s a Facebook group for anything. We’re part of a parkrun pushchair group which is full of lots of great tips. We get lots of parkrun tourists, people travel all over the world in search of new parkruns -so it’s interesting to meet all these new people,” says Catherine.

“Many people say they really enjoy the fact that there are four laps, because of the way it means the runners pass each other. There’s a real buzz in the air when they all set off down the hill.”

As well as the obvious benefits participating in parkrun provides, it impacts positively in other areas of people’s lives too...

Says Catherine: “Volunteering is hugely rewarding, I’ve learnt lots of new skills and the runners are always fantastically appreciative. We’ve had people crossing the finish line in tears before because it’s the first time they’ve ever run that distance and it’s inspiring to think our little run can have that much impact.

“I’m so pleased that the GP have formally recognised the benefits of parkrun. I think it shows a great deal of understanding on their part as to the impact of exercise on health and well being and the importance of feeling included. Everyone is welcome at parkrun.”

For more information, or to get involved, with Myrtle Park parkrun visit or

* The first Park Run was held at Bushy Park, Teddington, UK on October 2 2004 with a volunteer team including Paul and Joanne Sinton-Hewitt, Duncan Gaskell, Simon Hedger and Robin Drummond.

* Since then the idea has spiralled with volunteers setting up free-for-all 5k and 2k events not only locally and across the country but globally too.

*Hundreds of thousands of people are now part of the ever-expanding parkrun community.

*Parkrun has many benefits including the potential to support people outside of traditional mental health services.

Funding from Sport England has helped to support parkrun events in increasing female participation and encouraging more people from low socioeconomic communities to take part in free, weekly social activity.

To find out more, or to get involved, visit