wcdhb banner
News and Media Releases

Media Releases Archive

Introducing This Page

This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

March 11, 2013

Coasters going green for the good of their health

West Coast Health System

In spite of the West Coast having a national image of being populated by rugged outdoors types as fit as the proverbial buck rabbit, the Coast is actually no stranger to the modern epidemic of the Western world - a chronic lack of regular exercise in many people's lives leading to such issues as obesity and diabetes.

The good news is that Coasters, on average, are more likely to do something about it. Uptake of the Green Prescription fitness programme on the West Coast is very high on a per capita basis, and in some areas the Coast has the highest results in the country. So far more than 1500 people have participated in the programme since it became available in September 2008.

The Green Prescription programme on the Coast is supported by the West Coast Primary Health Organisation and the West Coast District Health Board. Compared with national figures, the Coast is doing very well, scoring highest in a number of categories and very high in others as the table below indicates.

West Coast Results compared with National Figures
Measure National minimum and national result West Coast result
  • Receive effective support to maintain activity
  • Minimum of 70% of participants feel more confident about doing physical activity
  • 76% achieved 2011
  • 78% achieved 2012
  • 87%
  • Highest result NZ
  • Have a choice of activities that are relevant and appropriate for them
  • Minimum of 85% of participants felt the activity provider suggested was right for them
  • 86% achieved 2011
  • 87% achieved 2012
  • 94%
  • Highest result NZ
  • Are motivated to participate in and follow their green presciption
  • Minimum of 75% of participants are motivated to get/stay physically active
  • 77% achieved 2011
  • 79% achieved 2012
  • 88%
  • 3rd highest
  • Are aware of and understand the benefits of physical activity
  • Minimum of 80% of participants are aware of and understand the benefits of physical activity
  • 81% achieved 2011
  • 83% achieved 2012
  • 89%
  • 2nd highest

Green Prescriptions are an exercise based referral programme with the aim of motivating inactive people to become independently active. GPs, practice nurses and other health professionals refer patients who meet the criteria (over 18, in a stable medical condition for low to moderate intensity physical activity, and less than 2.5 hours' physical activity per week) to a Green Prescription Coordinator.

Once a referral is made, the participant is contacted within 7-10 days and a face-to-face meeting arranged. During the meeting there is a discussion about lifestyle, current medical conditions, personal goals and an examination of what has prevented exercise in the past. This is designed to increase the sense of 'ownership' the participant has in making themselves better via exercise.

A physical activity plan is created which is generally for 3-4 months. Participants do a gym circuit programme and are encouraged to use the activity providers in the community. Individualised home programmes are made available for clients who cannot attend the gym.

There are also 8-week 'Active You' programmes, where the patient attends various different community based activities such as Tai Chi, the Aquatic Centre, or local gym facilities. Walking groups can also be part of the programme such as that run by the Cardiac Club.

One example of the success of the programme is participants who arrive for a meeting who struggle to get up the stairs without puffing, who then become exercisers who are able to be active for a minimum of one hour.

Case study 1 - Meryn Hardwick, Cobden

Meryn Hardwick (58) is feeling happier and healthier than she has for quite a while, and her blood pressure is normal, which is a much improved picture than August last year just before she entered the Green Prescription programme.

"I'd had an operation on my knee and it wasn't healing so good," Meryn says. "My blood pressure was high and my activity pretty restricted. That was getting me down a bit and I needed to do something about it."

Meryn joined the Green Prescription programme on the recommendation of a health support worker and hasn't looked back since.

"I go to the gym with the same group as my husband, who goes to help with respiratory programmes. We do weights and treadmills and stuff like that. In nine months my blood pressure was back down to normal. I love it. It gets me out, it's a very social group which is great for my mental health, and I like the fact that my husband and I can go together."

Meryn says her hip acted up a bit in the first week but since then she's got a lot stronger and she has no pain and enjoys the exercise.

"I started off only able to do a few reps on the weights, now I do 20 or more no problem.

"We're looking at what else we can do when the green prescription period runs out, but it'll be something, there's no way I'm going to stop now!"

Case study 2 - Brian Kelly, Greymouth

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly, feeling healthier due to his Green Prescription programme.

Brian Kelly is not afraid of hard work; he's 71 and still holds down a job. But things were getting a bit difficult for him about a year ago. He had type 2 diabetes, needed to lose a bit of weight and was struggling with his mobility thanks largely to a 'dicky hip'.

Today his diabetes is under control, he's lost a little weight, he's got his mobility back, and he's still at work!

"My GP thought a Green Prescription programme would give me some mobility, which it has, and I must admit I really enjoy the sociability of it as well. I go to the gym once a week and, as often as I can, I go to the pool as well, I'm really pleased. Just last week I had a new test and my diabetes is under control, a really good test result!"

- ENDS -

For more information

Bryan Jamieson
Community Liaison Officer
West Coast DHB
PO Box 387
Greymouth 7840
Phone (DDI): (03) 769-7665
Mobile: 027 245-9595

Richard Blakeborough
West Coast PHO
Cell: 027 288 0032

Back to the Media Releases Archive