MEN’S HEALTH WEEK Fit­ness a way out of de­pres­sion

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By BEN ROGERS

Two years ago Shon Saphire dropped out of univer­sity, in poor health and de­pressed.

The 52-year-old Mt Eden man needed to fo­cus on his per­sonal well­be­ing and with help from the Green Pre­scrip­tion pro­gramme he was able to do just that.

‘‘I’d been suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion for a num­ber of years, and I was in bad shape men­tally and phys­i­cally,’’ Saphire says.

In 2012, af­ter an in­jury Saphire had to drop out of the sec­ond year of his diploma of sports ex­er­cise and nu­tri­tion.

‘‘The in­jury sent me on a down­ward spiral be­cause I had to leave the course at that point and I had been build­ing up to it for a num­ber of years,’’ he says.

‘‘Green Pre­scrip­tion got me pre­pared to go back to uni and fin­ish my sec­ond year.

‘‘I knew if I didn’t I would just go all the way back down and there would be no com­ing back.

The Green Pre­scrip­tion pro­gramme is a sup­port ser­vice de­signed to get peo­ple started with phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

Pa­tients are re­ferred by a health pro­fes­sional to the pro­gramme which is fa­cil­i­tated by Sport Auck­land.

Green Pre­scrip­tion pro­mo­tions ad­viser Michael Mc­Cor­mack says the goal is early in­ter­ven­tion so peo­ple can get fit and healthy be­fore more se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions, such as di­a­betes.

‘‘The most im­por­tant thing they get from Green Pre­scrip­tion is the con­fi­dence to start ex­er­cis­ing and get­ting a frame­work that works for them,’’ Mc­Cor­mack says.

‘‘We hope to make the phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity a long-term life­style change, not just do­ing the gym for three weeks then say­ing that’s it.’’

Saphire is a reg­u­lar at the Mt Al­bert YMCA gym, which is a ser­vice pro­moted to the peo­ple in the Green Pre­scrip­tion pro­gramme.

Fit­ness and busi­ness man­ager Jonathan Peddie says the part­ner­ship with Green Pre­scrip­tion is nat­u­ral be­cause both par­ties have a sim­i­lar goal. The YMCA of­fers dis­counts to peo­ple on the pro­gramme and helps them with a fit­ness frame­work.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the pro­gramme Saphire still ex­er­cises.

‘‘I started off at the gym once a week, then twice a week, then I grad­u­ally built up to three to four times a week.

‘‘Both my men­tal and phys­i­cal health is a lot bet­ter and that has al­lowed me to start pur­su­ing my goals again.’’

Saphire is now in the fi­nal stages of his diploma. In be­tween study­ing full­time and work­ing out he works with young adults re­cov­er­ing from men­tal health and ad­dic­tion.

‘‘I get them out into the en­vi­ron­ment, the beaches, parks, moun­tains and I get them mov­ing.

‘‘It’s all about ex­er­cise ac­tiv­ity but us­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘It’s a chal­lenge for them and for me too, and that’s why I do it.’’

Changed man: Shon Saphire says ex­er­cis­ing and stay­ing fit has helped him out of de­pres­sion.

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