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New Zealand moves forward with green prescriptions

New Zealand moves forward with green prescriptions
February 18, 2015

New Zealand Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the health benefits of Green Prescriptions continue to be demonstrated, as more and more people take medical advice to get fit and eat well to help tackle their health problems.

Dr Coleman explains “the Green Prescriptions initiative is going from strength to strength. “Three quarters of patients who were issued with a Green Prescription in 2014 said they had experienced positive health changes as a result.”

Patients with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, or those who are overweight or with health problems such as high blood pressure can get a Green Prescription (GRx) from their GP or practice nurse.

These prescriptions contain advice on nutrition and physical activity to help manage their condition and reduce the risk of developing complications. Local initiatives range from cooking classes to motivational texts and boot camps.

In the last three months of 2014 more than 11,000 Green Prescriptions were issued, up from 9,272 in the same period last year.

This year close to 50,000 referrals are expected for people to receive support to get more active and eat healthier food.

Dr Coleman adds “obesity and diabetes are some of our greatest health challenges.

“We are working in partnership with regional sports trusts, primary health organisations and agencies like Diabetes NZ to make sure that people get the support they need to lead a healthier life and enjoy it too.”

The national GRx programme is completely free and, in the Wellington region, currently assists up to 3,100 patients a year. GRx looks to combat medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and/or mental illness using physical activity, sport and nutrition as a vehicle to health and wellbeing.

Research presented at the World Parks Congress in Sydney in November last year highlighted the role of outdoor exercise in green spaces as being important to the success of green prescriptions.

Dr Mardie Townsend, a Senior Lecturer at Deakin University's School of Health, cited one study in the Netherlands which found that people living within 300 metres of a green space have lower stress levels than those living further away.

Dr Townsend told the Congress “engaging in nature (helps) to make connections (while) the same amount of effort put into a physical activity in green space is perceived as less effort than doing that activity indoors.”

Parks Victoria Chief Executive Dr Bill Jackson added that parks agencies now view it as 'core' business to encourage the health sector and insurance companies to commit funding to support open spaces.

Dr Jackson stated “It's early days but it's starting to happen.

“If we can tap into the overall health budget that would be ideal.”

Further information about Green Prescriptions can be found on the Ministry of Health website at www.health.govt.nz

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We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

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However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

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