A number of Kiwis are opting for fresh air and exercise instead of depending on traditional Western medicine.

A green prescription is an instruction from a health professional encouraging their patient to become more physically active, especially outdoors in nature.

The green prescription is an internationally recognised scheme which was introduced into New Zealand in 1998. Green prescriptions, or GRx, are available nationwide and are “a cost effective way of increasing physical activity”, according to the Ministry of Health. By signing up to the scheme, participants have access to discounted rates at their local gyms and rec centres, diet and nutrition courses, and even get invited on trips around the country.

Results from a 2018 survey of 3000 patients showed the scheme was working. Just over 60 percent of those surveyed said they were still more active than they were before getting their green prescription, felt healthier, and had made changes to their eating habits.

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We went along to Rangitoto Island with a bunch of green prescription members to find out more about why they’re choosing nature’s medicine, and the benefits that come with doing so.

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SELA + MOLA

How did you become involved with green prescription?

MOLA: My doctor referred me to green prescription. I had an accident at work. Before I had an accident, I had surgery. My energy levels were really low at that time. My GP really wanted me to recover and retain my energy levels, so she referred me to green prescription.

How has green prescription benefitted you so far?

MOLA: It’s been very useful for me. Not only do they help me with exercising but also with my eating as well. I was really down before but now, I feel like I am back to where I was. I think I’m really close to being back at my full energy levels. I’ve already joined the gym for the next year too.

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REBECCA + HAZEL

How did you become involved with green prescription and why?

HAZEL: Through my doctor. I’ve been involved for about three years. Mine is more of a mental issue but it [green prescription] has really helped me. It’s the encouragement and the people. The people are very encouraging, and I’ve learnt a lot. 

REBECCA: I have an auto-immune condition, so I wanted to improve my fitness and socialise with other people who also want to improve their fitness. 

How has green prescription benefitted you so far?

HAZEL: Staying positive, positive thoughts. The thing is, you’ve got to help out yourself first before you can help out others. Doing this, I’ve learnt a lot. I should’ve done it years ago but I just didn’t have the time. I think making the time is very important, time to set our goals.

REBECCA: I’m getting more out of my comfort zone. I like to keep to myself, I’m introverted, so it’s helped me reach out more to people and be open.

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What would you say to people who are considering becoming a part of a green prescription?

HAZEL: I’d just like to say to them that you can do it. A lot of people think to themselves “oh that’s not me, I can’t do that”. They need to give it a go.

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JOGINDER

How did you become involved with green prescription?

I had my knees replaced a couple of years ago. I was getting all sorts of advice on exercise, fitness, and activities. They finally recommended the green prescription programme and from then on, I’ve been following the programme very strictly. 

How has green prescription benefitted you so far?

I really like the way they guide their clients. I live in Ōtāhuhu and when I went and saw the rep there, she motivated me to take part in the activities, especially the exercises in the swimming pool, the walking, and all that. They then told me about the other facilities I could access at a discounted price, so that is also very good. I’m using the spa and sauna at a discounted price.

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Highlight of the trip so far?

The best moment was when I was at the top and looking at the Harbour Bridge, the mighty Harbour Bridge was looking like a toy. I had never seen Auckland like that before. I’ll remember it for quite some time.

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JO

Why are you on Rangitoto today?

We are a part of green prescription and wanted to make the most of the end of our year. We heard about this walk and wanted to be a part of it. The last time I did it (climbed Rangitoto), I was seven months pregnant, so I’m back four years later doing it again.

How has green prescription benefitted you so far?

They take a holistic approach with health and encourage us to practice mindfulness and self-care, as well as eating well, setting goals, and helping us to achieve them.

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HAZEL

Highlight of the trip so far?

It’s good for the mental health side of things. Like people who are anxious and would usually isolate themselves at home, it’s good to get them out.

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PARITA

Highlight of the trip so far?

Being here shows that the gym and running around aren’t the only things that can help you to become healthy.

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CHRISTY

Why are you on Rangitoto today?

I’m here to be with my clients and have a good time. Leshgo!

How did you become involved with green prescription?

To be honest, I just needed a job but as it carried on, I like what I was doing – being able to help clients make changes for a healthier lifestyle and moving towards their goals – that’s how I became involved and still am until this day.

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AROHANUI + WILLIAM

How has green prescription benefitted you so far?

Arohanui: It motivated me to lose weight and be healthier. Green prescription has been really motivational for me and I’ll carry on with them for the rest of my days.

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