Not all medical advances start in a laboratory. One of the latest breakthroughs in health care is effective and deceptively simple. Physicians are now writing prescriptions for exercise. Called “green prescriptions” or “GRx,” these orders to exercise are popular among physicians who are used to their patients diligently taking the pills they prescribe, but routinely ignoring their advice to become more active.
Advocates of the practice maintain that this new type of prescription is both a smart and cost-effective way to help patients stay healthy. Instead of just advising patients to try to get some exercise, health-care professionals are now writing out prescriptions, making formal requests for patients to get active.
Researchers at Massey University in New Zealand recently studied the effectiveness of a GRx program. Data from in-depth interviews with 20 women, aged 40 years and older, who had been members of a GRx program in Auckland, were collected and compared.
All the women reported positive experiences of the GRx program, and showed an improvement in their physical activity, lifestyle behaviors, and health symptoms. Many of these positive experiences were attributed to the social and friendly atmosphere created by their peers and staff during the exercise program, the exercise options offered, and the educational workshops the participants attended.
The results are hardly surprising. Regular exercise is essential to any healthy lifestyle. Some of its benefits, like losing weight and improving cardiovascular health, are obvious, while others—like warding off brain damage and helping control diabetes—aren’t. But, the key in this movement is that those benefits simply are not enough to get some people motivated to exercise. They need an extra push. And, a green prescription might be just the thing.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Newest Trend, “Green Prescriptions,” Are Paying Off
Nosa, V., et al., “The Green Prescription program and the experiences of Pacific women in Auckland,” J Prim Health Care December 1, 2012; 4(4): 313-9.