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Exercise still the best medicine – green prescriptions

Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health

15 February 2013 Media Release
Exercise still the best medicine – green prescriptions increase

The government wants more New Zealanders being physically active to help improve their health and that’s why a record thirty six thousand people were issued with a Green Prescription for exercise, an increase of nearly ten thousand compared to 2008, says Health Minister Tony Ryall.

“This includes families and young people who have GPs or nurses who think they need to lose weight, get active and learn healthy habits early on in life,” Mr Ryall says.

GPs or practice nurses issue the green prescriptions to their patients as part of treatment. The Green Prescription holder is then teamed up with a patient support person who encourages them to get active and keep up their new more active lifestyle. They also give activity and nutritional advice to families and children through weekly group sessions or home visits.

“Pumping up activity levels can do a great deal of good. It helps prevent the onset of diabetes, or manages it better, and reduces the impact of cardiovascular disease. These are two major national health targets for improving our population’s health,” says Mr Ryall.

“A more active lifestyle also helps people lose weight and keep it off – preventing a range of significant illnesses – and increasingly doctors are prescribing it or mental health issues.

71 year old Noel of Whangarei suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and a sore hip. He’d become overweight and he was issued with a Green Prescription.

Noel took up walking and cycling, “Learning about nutrition has also been very helpful and I know much more about healthy eating now,” Noel says.
Noel has lost 11 kg, is sleeping better and his cholesterol levels are down. The pain in his hip is much less too.

“Overall two thirds of people given a Green Prescription are spending more time being active, 70 per cent have noticed positive health changes including weight loss (47 per cent) and there is 80 per cent satisfaction with the support services,” Mr Ryall says.

“After 14 successful years, the National Government’s Green Prescription is now internationally recognised as one of the most highly effective and cost effective ways of increasing physical activity and making significant improvements to people’s health,” Mr Ryall says.

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