Science Interviews


Tue, 5th Jan 2016

A different approach to getting fit

Paul Sinton-Hewitt, Founder of Parkrun

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Do You Have Skinny Genes?

Parkrun is something that has taken the world by storm. It's a simple concept - Running9am on a Saturday, hundreds meet up for a 5 kilometre run. But as as founder of Parkrun, Paul Sinton-Hewitt explained to Graihagh Jackson, it's not really about the running...

Paul - I might not have said this ten years ago but where I stand today, looking at the Parkrun, then I realise that the running aspect of Parkrun is probably is one of the least important aspects of Parkrun.

Graihagh - Parkrun is something that has taken the world by storm. It's a simple concept - 9am on a Saturday, hundreds meet up for a 5 kilometre run. It started in Bushy Park, just outside of London, which is why you can hear parakeets galore in the background of this interview! But as a founder of Parkrun, Paul Sinton-Hewitt said, it's not really about the running...

Paul - What we do really, really well, and what is of vital importance is this community that supports people on the fringes of society to find to find friends, to find help, to be integrated into society and to improve their own wellbeing.

Graihagh -   Because what's really striking to me is that, obviously, you have this fantastic community going on where everyone - people on the fringes as you said get to meet other people - but also there is this fantastic benefit that hundreds of thousands of people are doing exercise every Saturday which they might not have otherwise done.

Paul - That's absolutely correct.  And it's not something that we really focussed on in the past but, right now, 2 million people are registered and a 1.4 million of those have participated - a hundred thousand people taking part every week.

Graihagh - You've sparked a bit of a global running 'revolution' then haven't you?

Paul - We call it a movement. 'Revolution' is probably a bit strong.  Everybody can run. Anyone who can walk can run and what parkrun does is it focusses, it's achievable for everybody and we just make it fun and, that way, I think we are changing people's behaviour.

Graihagh - What I'm going to be taking away from this is genetics can play a role in our abilities, there's no doubt about that, but also how training and lifestyle can significantly affect those ability but most importantly, our quality of life. You might die at the same age but actually, you're more likely to live those 80 odd years fit and healthy rather than as a bit aged and decrepit.

So, as the New Year dawns, whether it's at the gym, in the park or on the dance floor, I shall be keeping fit and having fun in the hope of a new me for 2016... Perhaps, even with a six pack to rival my brother Charlie's!

Charlie - Yes.  I don't see why not.

Graihagh - You're too nice!  I totally thought you were going to be like 'yeah right.'

Charlie - No. I think you could easily.



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