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Try a natural high instead

Media release
For immediate release 28 February 2008

Try a natural high instead

If medication isn’t helping with your depression, why not try a new sport or activity instead, suggests New Zealand Recreation Association chief executive Brendon Ward.

After hearing yesterday about the limited results shown by some mood altering medication, Mr Ward suggests trying alternatives. He says there is proven evidence internationally that if ‘you feel blue, you should see green’.

“I’m not for one minute suggesting people with serious depression give up their medication, but I’m trying to offer alternatives to drugs, for those who suffer from the blues,” says Mr Ward.

“We all need balance in our lives, and recreation offers many positive benefits which may help people feel happier in general,” he says.

“The outdoors, fresh air and nature all have a calming effect that helps you relax. American researcher Bill Sullivan, who spoke to New Zealand recreation professions at our national conference last November, proved that greenery, nature and the outdoors has measurably positive effects on human behaviour. And this is a valuable lesson we can learn from.

“Joining a walking group, playing darts with friends, doing aqua jogging or even participating in a book club, may help people feel better about life,” says Mr Ward.

“With our fast-paced lives, work, family commitments and financial pressure, many of us are simply not finding enough time in our week for pure relaxation and recreation. But it’s one way we can look after ourselves.

“Recreation helps relieve stress, takes your mind off your worries, and depending on the activity, gives your body a burst of energy. When you are physically active the body produces endorphins which gives you a natural high.”

Mr Ward uses the NZRA award winning programme never2old as an example.

“This joint AUT/YMCA run programme encourages over 60 year olds to get involved in sports and activities. Some of them do physical activities they may never have previously contemplated – like abseiling – but other activities are more sedate - like tai chi.

Formal assessments on test groups by AUT’s Sport and Fitness Department of regular never2old participants reveal significant improvements in mobility, strength and balance. Participants also report mental health benefits, improved social connection, physical confidence and a more positive attitude to life.

“The programme’s results are really encouraging, many participants report a renewed lease on life,” says Mr Ward.

“Drugs certainly have their place – but people can gain benefits by re-assessing their lifestyle – recreation is an essential part of our lives and if we forget to include it – we may feel low or depressed without realising the cause.

“Why not try a new activity, use the facilities your community has to offer and see what a difference it makes to you.”


About NZRA
NZRA is a not for profit industry organisation committed to promoting recreation and providing professional services to the recreation sector. The sectors that NZRA represents include public swimming pools, parks and open spaces, recreation facilities and recreation programmes. Our vision is that Recreation is vital to the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

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