The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged the Government
to introduce 'green prescriptions' - to encourage people to get
outdoors and take part in physical activity.
The scheme has been running in New Zealand since 1998 and
results show that 72% of respondents noticed positive changes to
their health and more than half (51%) felt stronger and fitter.
The prescriptions consist of a list of physical activity goals
that overweight and obese people can aim for. They are sent to a
third person who provides encouragement and support to the patient.
Their progress is then reported back to their GP.
Research published in the British Medical Journal found that a
green prescription can improve a patient's quality of life over 12
months and help people live longer, healthier lives.
Some GPs are already using similar scheme to encourage patients
to exercise and enjoy the great outdoors, such as Dartmoor and
LGA's community wellbeing portfolio holder, Cllr Izzi Seccombe,
said: "Not every visit to a GP is necessarily a medical one. By
writing formal prescriptions for exercise, it would encourage
people to do more physical activity.
"The green prescription model is something that could help to
tackle major health conditions such as obesity and diabetes. There
are already some good examples where this is being piloted in the
UK, and it is something we should consider on a nationwide
Steven Ward, ukactive executive director, said: "Britain is in
the grip of a cradle to grave physical inactivity crisis and the
great outdoors is a fantastic gateway for getting people moving
"Physical activity has been hailed as a miracle cure which can
help to treat and prevent more than 20 lifestyle-related diseases
and if GPs were to prescribe this it would bring huge benefits to
people's physical and mental health."
The Parks Alliance (TPA) has previously called on the Government
to commission clinical trials into how 'green prescriptions' can
help improve public health.