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Exercise The Best Medicine - New Funding Announced

The Health Minister today announced new funding to expand the availability of "Green Prescriptions" - where General Practitioners prescribe physical activity not drugs to get people healthy.

"The health benefits of physical activity are astounding and it can be as simple as going for a walk.

"Walking for 30 minutes most days a week can make a real difference to each of our physical wellbeing," Mr Creech said.

"That's one of the reasons why the Ministry of Health is injecting $400,000 to expand the Green Prescriptions project."

Mr Creech made the announcement at the launch of the Ministry of Health's participation in the National Heart Foundation's "Stroll, Strut and Stride" programme to get people walking.

"Green Prescriptions involve GPs writing formal directions to patients to increase their personal levels of activity. They can be preventative or as part of a cure for existing medical conditions.

"Once the patient has the information they can get help from the regional sports trusts funded by the Hillary Commission. They provide additional advice to patients, provide 0800 free phone advice, support and monitoring.

"Green Prescriptions originated from the Hillary Commission after the completion of clinical trials conducted by the National Heart Foundation. They've been so successful that we're going to expand them.

"The extra funding will pay for six Green Prescription co-ordinators, information for GPs and patients, training for GPs and physical activity co-ordinators, promotion, improved computer prescriptions and research.

"Prevention is key to keeping us healthy and well as a nation. It is a fact we are getting fatter. I want us as a nation to get fitter. If we don't do it we'll be in real trouble in the future as our health status declines." One in three adults is inactive ? a 10 per cent increase in the number of adults who are active would return health cost savings of at least $55 million a year.

The Minister was joined by staff from the Ministry of Health for a walk along Wellington's Lambton Quay to promote the National Heart Foundation's "Stroll, Strut and Stride" programme.

The programme challenges participants to walk the length of New Zealand (2113km) or either the North (1098km) or South Island (915km) over a period of eleven weeks in teams of about 10 people. The average team member would need to walk about 20km a week to achieve the team goal.

ENDS

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