Parkruns: TV presenter and writer Konnie Huq encourages women to join in more

TV presenter and writer Konnie Huq is encouraging more women not just to register for parkruns but to turn up and take part
Jenny Stallard (PA)

At 9AM every Saturday, thousands line up to take part in a free, marshalled 5k run, walk or stroll in local parks.

There are 696 Saturday 5k parkruns in the UK and more than 6.5 million people have registered worldwide. Anyone can register, and it's free, with no judgment on how fast you run, if you stop for a bit, or even give up halfway.

But while there are more women registered than men – 36 per cent of women who sign up are no-shows on the day.

TV presenter and author Konnie Huq wants to change that. She confesses that her husband, Black Mirror writer Charlie Brooker finds time for exercise when she doesn't.

"My husband goes running regularly, whereas I do nothing. I am that person, where everything I do, I try to do between 9 and 3, whereas the dads don't," says Huq.

Women can end up not giving themselves 'permission' to exercise, while their husbands or partners do, Huq adds. "In a partnership, often the onus is on the female to do the childcare and domestic chores. Even if we don't like to admit it, that's how it works. All my mum friends, their husbands go for a run or a bike ride and don't think twice about it, but the women feel guilty. It just shouldn't be like that."

She believes women are more prone to put off exercise because of the rest of the things on their life to-do list. She says "the number one issue is fear of judgment", though women "may have issues over body confidence" too.

It's not just about feeling fit enough, but about feeling like you fit in, too, she says.

"I think physical and mental health come hand in hand. It's well known that the more you do, the more you want to do, because you're in that mindset. But mentally, it's all about routine."

With parkruns "anyone can come" says Huq. "It's whatever you want it to be, really."

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