A green prescription is your health professional's written advice to you to encourage you to become more physically active.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves and our families/whanau, is to be physically active, yet over 50% of NZ adults don't get enough exercise for health and wellbeing.
The green prescription is an internationally recognised scheme which began in 1998. Green prescriptions are available nationwide thanks to a partnership with general practice and funding from the Ministry of Health. Research shows green prescriptions are a cost effective way of increasing physical activity. (1)
How a green prescription can help?
Being physically active has many benefits. Not only does it make you feel good, it can also help you to:
- Have more energy
- Improve cholesterol levels
- Improve blood sugar levels
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Feel more confident, happy and relaxed
- Reduce stress, feelings of anxiety and depression
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve sleeping habits
- Keep your bones strong
- Cope better with asthma and breathing problems
- Increase flexibility, mobility and reduce the pain of arthritis
- Reduce the risk of some types of cancer
- Reduce the risk of falling
Who are green prescriptions for?
Green prescriptions are for anyone (young and old) who needs to be more active. There are two programmes.
Green prescription for adults
This is for adults who need help to get more active again. Why not try:
- Walking – it’s convenient and cheap. Walk on your own or in a group
- Swimming or aqua fitness – there’s lots you can do in the water
- Dancing – try something new and enjoyable
- Gardening – fresh air and fresh vegetables
- Family fun – join your kids for games in the park or backyard
Green Prescription Active Families
This Ministry of Health programme for school aged children is important because it tries to establish good habits and prevent overweight children becoming unhealthy adults. Activity and nutritional advice is provided to families through weekly group sessions or home visits.
How can I get a green prescription?
There are several options for getting a green prescription.
- Ask your doctor or practice nurse about a Green Prescription
- Phone 0800 ACTIVE (22 84 83)
- Find local contacts or Active Families contacts (Sourced from the Ministry of Health website)
Once you receive your green prescription, a trained support person will get in touch and help you get started with a physical activity programme that's right for you.
- You’ll get help with planning regular physical activity to help you stay active.
- There’s also the chance to meet and join other people in your community who are choosing to be more active just like you.
- The best way to get active and stay motivated is to find something you enjoy!
Ask your doctor if you are unsure about how active to be or if you experience any unexplained pain, dizziness or shortage of breath during activity. You may also find the resource What Intensity from the Ministry of Health useful to review with your doctor or nurse.
Personal stories about trying green prescriptions
"My GP sat me down and said ‘you really have to do something about your health - if you keep going this way, in five years' time you won't be here." Read more about Anthony's green prescription
"When you're that heavy, life sort of stops. Now that I've lost all this weight, everything becomes beautiful." Read more about Keron's green prescription
‘‘I was in a situation where I was down and depressed and I went downhill and didn’t want to be here. Normally I’m an active guy, but when I got crook I got really down.’’ Read more about Ray's green prescription
"It was frustrating at first because I had to restart everything. I felt like I got set back about 6 months." Read more about Jason's green prescription
- Ministry of Health. 2012. A Prescription for Good Health: Green Prescriptions in action
Elley R, Kerse N, Arroll B, Swinburn B, Ashton T, Robinson E. Cost-effectiveness of physical activity counselling in general practice. NZ Med J 2004;117:U1216.