Luton Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS Luton Clinical Commissioning Group

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Running inspires Bedford GP who helps others get fit and fight loneliness

05 June 2018


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LocalGP Dr Jenny Wilson organises parkrun – free running events, in Bedford and saysit is the ideal activity to help people to get fit, and meet others as it is sosociable. 

Sheis inviting people to join in on Saturday 9 June when parkrun events all overthe country will be dedicated to celebrate the NHS70th birthday, and theBedford Park venue is set to be full of NHS staff, with many people in fancydress and a real party atmosphere.

Jenny first went running when herschool PE teacher sent her on a cross-country run with the boys’ groupfollowing an argument. She enjoyed it and asked to go again.  Always last to be picked for a team because ofpoor hand-eye co-ordination, Jenny walked everywhere when she was a medicalstudent, as she couldn’t afford to take the bus.

Jenny says: When I was a juniordoctor I needed to keep active for my sanity and I used to just run out of thefront door for 20 minutes, but in Cameroon where I worked as a missionarydoctor for two years it was too hot to do specific exercise.”

Once she settled in Bedford over 20years ago as a GP, Jenny started running again – initially with Race for Life, aftera practice nurse suggested a team challenge, and has run regularly since then.

Jenny continues: “My biggestbarrier to exercise has been time. As a junior doctor in the 1980s I wasworking up to 130 hours a week. As a GP in Bedford I was often on call orworking shifts, making it hard to fit in exercise as well as family time. I didsometimes swim – doing a slow breaststroke like a swan, but found itboring.  My mum joined a gym at the age of 80 and challenged me with afive day trial membership but I much prefer to be outside.

“After my daughter was born my weightwent up to 12 stone - too much for my 5’4” height. Then, when a patient askedme when I was due to give birth, it gave me both a shock, and the stimulus toexercise and get back to a healthy weight.”

Jenny didn’t think of herself asa ‘runner’ until seven years ago when her brother in law,  who was involved the early days of parkrun inBushy excitedly told her that it was starting in Bedford. As well as parkrun,Jenny has run the London Marathon as a volunteer guide runner for a blindparticipant in 2017 – a role of enormous trust.

People often ask Jenny if runningis bad for their knees, but she says: “My mother and grandmother both hadsevere osteoarthritis but I’ve run for over 35 years and have only had one veryminor issue which was easily sorted by a physiotherapist. I now make sure that Iincorporate some strength training to protect my ageing body.

“The great thing about parkrun,is that there is no pressure to go fast, and you are outdoors in lovelysurroundings. But best of all, you meet people,making it one of the best ways to fight loneliness which affects many people ofall ages. I have made new friends there and am a volunteer, and there is alwaystime to chat over a coffee afterwards at the Bedford Park Pavilion.”

Bedford parkrun for NHS70 takesplace in Bedford Park at 9am on Saturday 9 June, starting with a warm up at8.45, organised by the GP exercise scheme at Fusion.  The event is organised by volunteers and isfree. Find out more on the website: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/bedford/

If you have a story about the NHSand why you love it, please send it to Bedfordshire Clinical CommissioningGroup at NHS70.Stories@nhs.net 


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