Published May 16th 2024
“It’s given me a second chance at life. If it wasn’t for Green Prescription, I’d be a couch potato or may not even be alive”

When Aucklander Cathy started her Green Prescription journey, she had no idea of the life-changing effect it would have.

“It’s given me a second chance at life. If it wasn’t for Green Prescription, I’d be a couch potato or may not even be alive,” the 61-year-old says.

Green Prescription is a free, 12-week (or longer) programme offering patients support to become more active and eat healthier. It’s been running for over 25 years and has helped thousands of Kiwis improve their health and wellbeing.

eReferrals can be made to Green Prescription using CareSelect.

Cathy first learnt about the Green Prescription programme when her GP referred her.

“I got so much support. I attended nutrition workshops, diabetes workshops, smoking cessation workshops and joined aqua aerobics classes.”

Since starting with Green Prescription, Cathy has dropped from 157kg to 125kg and has stopped smoking two packets of cigarettes a day.

“I’ve also stopped drinking fizzy drinks. I still like sugar in my coffee, but at a reduced rate.”

She also swims every day now, getting up at 4.30am to hit the pool for an hour.

“I feel so alive and good about myself after a good workout in the pool. It’s a perfect way to start the day. I’ve gone from just water-walking to being able to breast-stroke 100m without stopping,” Cathy says.

“It’s relaxing and therapeutic and takes the stress off my joints. I feel so happy and good about myself after each workout. I haven’t reached my goal weight yet but I’m stronger, fitter and happier than I’ve ever been.”


Overcoming challenges

It hasn’t been an easy road for Cathy on her wellbeing journey, but she’s overcome many challenges.

“Initially I looked for excuses not to get up like it’s raining or too cold or I’m too tired. I have osteoarthritis in my knee, so I used that as an excuse not to get up, but then I changed my mind set about needing to move around.”

And Cathy has some words of encouragement for other people embarking on their own wellbeing journey.

“Take that first step, you need to want to change. Don’t rush it and set achievable goals that you can build on. Look around at your children and grandchildren and aim to be around or them. You’ll feel sore but be grateful as you’re alive!”

She also says eating smaller portions and fewer takeaways has helped her, as well as not eating after 7pm.

“And drink water, it’s free.”


Different delivery methods

Sport Auckland and Harbour Sport deliver the Green Prescription programme to patients across Tamaki Makaurau.

Sport Auckland Health & Wellness business development manager Michael McCormack says the programme can be delivered in different ways to suit people’s needs.

“Whether it’s face-to-face community programmes, online exercise classes or telehealth and text support, there’s a delivery method to suit everyone.”

As well as GPs and nurses being able to refer patients to the programme using HealthLink, health coaches and health improvement practitioners can also send eReferrals directly to Green Prescription.

Michael says the programme is making a huge difference to people’s lives.

“It’s about getting people moving, eating a healthier and more balanced diet, and creating permanent lifestyle changes that people can eventually manage themselves.”


How to refer patients to a Green Prescription provider:

  • open the patient record
  • launch the HealthLink homepage
  • using the CareSelect search bar type “Green prescription”
  • click “Compose Referral”.