The Children’s Heart Federation (CHF) and parkrun have joined forces to encourage children with heart conditions to reap the benefits of exercise in a safe way.
On Sunday 4th November families of children with heart conditions gathered at the junior parkrun at King George V Playing Fields Welwyn Garden City to cheer on their children and siblings as they ran around the 2km course.
Not only did these inspiring young people show what children with heart conditions can achieve, but they also improved their cardiovascular health, which will improve their overall fitness and reduce the risk of them developing cardiovascular disease in later life.
Sunday also marked the production of the document Guidelines for children with heart conditions participating in parkrun which has been drawn up by CHF in conjunction with parkrun, it explains how parkrun works, how it could benefit a child with a heart condition and their family and gives guidance on what to do should a child feel unwell or tired.
“parkrun is ideal for children with heart conditions because it isn’t a race, children can go at their own pace, jog or walk and can take a break if tired or breathless,” said Stuart Ainsworth, Outreach Ambassador (Heart Conditions) (Volunteer) parkrun UK. “As some children with heart conditions need to avoid contact sports, parkrun is a good way for them to exercise safely.
“I am delighted that we have several children with heart conditions running today with or without their families. They are showing how children with heart conditions can benefit and achieve through exercise.”
This initiative is part of Project PROVE which is looking to make parkrun events accessible and welcoming to those with disabilities and long-term conditions.
Supporting Project PROVE is CHF trustee Paul Willgoss, who is a keen marathon runner and was born with a complex heart condition.
“When I was a child I was excluded from most sporting activities at my school,” said Paul. “My school was terrified my heart couldn’t take the strain. An activity like parkrun would have been of great benefit to me, and I hope will be to children born with heart conditions like me.
“Exercise can help children with heart conditions manage their health as overall muscular fitness supports the heart in circulating blood to the body.
“Exercise is therefore extremely important for children with heart conditions and the ethos of parkrun allows for full participation. It’s a fun and free way to build exercise into busy lives.”