Green pre­scrip­tion works won­ders

Central Leader - - NEWS - By LAUREN PRIESTLEY

Only a year ago An­thony Car­roll found it hard to get out of bed. He felt that way for days at a time.

A stroke in 2011 had left him with mo­bil­ity prob­lems on his left side.

He was un­em­ployed, al­most 20 kilo­grams heav­ier than he is now, was on the brink of de­vel­op­ing type 2 di­a­betes and suf­fer­ing from se­vere de­pres­sion.

The 55-year-old Western Springs man had no mo­ti­va­tion to change his life.

But a rou­tine visit to the doc­tor was the wakeup call he needed.

‘‘My GP sat me down and said ‘you re­ally have to do some­thing about your health – if you keep go­ing this way, in five years’ time you won’t be here’. It was very hard to hear.

‘‘It’s a sense of sur­vival. You have to make a de­ci­sion to ei­ther fade away or get up and get go­ing.’’

The doc­tor re­ferred Mr Car­roll to Sport Auck­land’s Green Pre- scrip­tion ini­tia­tive in Au­gust 2012 and he has be­come a self­con­fessed gym junkie, los­ing 17kg in that time.

He plans to ex­er­cise ev­ery day over the hol­i­days ex­cept for Christ­mas Day – only be­cause the gym isn’t open.

Mr Car­roll says he used to think the John Kir­wan ad­ver­tise­ments talk­ing about the ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise for de­pres­sion were pro­mot­ing a ‘‘fairy­tale’’.

‘‘In ac­tual fact, ex­er­cise does help.

‘‘It’s changed my life. De­pres­sion is re­ally de­bil­i­tat­ing. You just live un­der a dark cloud where nor­mal day-to-day oc­ca­sions are hard work.

‘‘Go­ing to the gym has given me the abil­ity to face my chal­lenges with a more pos­i­tive at­ti­tude. The prob­lems don’t go away but your mech­a­nisms to cope are im­proved.’’

Mr Car­roll goes to the Mt Al­bert YMCA six days a week to work out and even got a part-time job af­ter a con­ver­sa­tion with another gym mem­ber.

He says the pos­i­tive, friendly at­mos­phere at the gym makes it easy to keep go­ing.

‘‘I was re­luc­tant and ac­tu­ally re­ally scared about go­ing at first but I’ve found the whole ex­pe­ri­ence so pos­i­tive.’’

He would en­cour­age any­one strug­gling with their weight to get in­volved in Green Pre­scrip­tion.

‘‘It wasn’t just handed to me on a plate. It’s a mat­ter of be­ing com­mit­ted.

‘‘If I hadn’t gone with Green Pre­scrip­tion I would have gone for about two months and thought that I could cope on my own and just stopped. ’’

The ini­tia­tive be­gan in 1998 and has gone from strength to strength, Green Pre­scrip­tion pro­mo­tions ad­viser Michael McCor­mack says.

It now reaches more than 7000 peo­ple across Auck­land and co­or­di­na­tors are look­ing to ex­tend it in com­ing years.

‘‘It’s re­ally re­ward­ing for us to see the amount of change that we can ac­tu­ally in­spire in peo­ple. By pro­vid­ing them with some very ba­sic in­for­ma­tion peo­ple can change their lives.

‘‘The main thing is that what we’re do­ing is ac­tu­ally work­ing.’’


Pump­ing iron: An­thony Car­roll feels weird if he goes for more than a day with­out a work­out.

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