Green prescription

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A green prescription is a referral given by a doctor or nurse to a patient, with exercise and lifestyle goals written on them.

The term, used by health practitioners in New Zealand draws parallel to the usual prescriptions given to patients for medications, and emphasises the importance of exercise in improving their condition, and not relying on drugs.

The green prescription is written after discussing the issues and goals in the consultation.

Studies have shown that an increase in exercise, better sense of well-being, and a decrease in blood pressure results from using the method. A decreased risk of coronary heart disease has not been shown. This was shown in two studies, one by Swinburn (1998), that surveyed patients in Auckland and Dunedin. The other was Elley (2003) and was done in 42 practices in the same region of New Zealand.

General practitioners like the idea as it formalises what they are telling the patient about how their lifestyle changes are necessary (Swinburn 1997).

See also[edit]


  • Elley C. R., Kerse N., Arroll B., & Robinson E., (2003). Effectiveness of counselling patients on physical activity in general practice: Cluster randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 326(7393), 793.
  • Swinburn B. A., Walter L. G., Arroll B., Tilyard M.W., & Russell D. G., (1997). Green prescriptions: Attitudes and perceptions of general practitioners towards prescribing exercise. British Journal of General Practice, 47(422), 567-569.
  • Swinburn B. A., Walter L. G., Arroll B., Tilyard M. W., & Russell D. G., (1998). The green prescription study: A randomized controlled trial of written exercise advice provided by general practitioners. American Journal of Public Health, 88(2), 288-291.

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