A_TW091018NADSPIN041.JPG Gym activities play a big part in changing Green Prescription participants' lives for the better. Photo / NZME
As occurred in March/April last year when Covid-19 first appeared in our lives, our latest lockdown provided Northlanders with the chance to get out and get active, with a lot of people needing that daily "escape" from being trapped at home.
But as I mentioned last month in this column, Sport NZ has undertaken some in-depth surveying over the past 12 months, and some of the insights gathered have demonstrated that Covid has greatly impacted New Zealanders' physical activity levels, and that (at the time) we were still not back to where we were pre-Covid.
And as I mention above, we know that these lockdowns provide the opportunity and the motivation for adults to increase physical activity levels, so coming out of the latest one, what are you doing to keep going after that start you've made?
One way an increasing number of Northlanders are doing this is through an initiative called Green Prescription, which supports people to get more active through a prescription for exercise from your GP or practice nurse.
The following is a story of Pauline Imhof's experience with getting back into regular activity as part of the Green Prescription initiative.
"My entire career, some 40-plus years, consisted of the sort of employment that required sitting all day. Data entry and administrative being the greater time spent. Working a full-time job and bringing up a family left me too tired to join a sport, however I did sporadic stints at various gyms and afterwards I always felt more energised.
"Turning the clock forward a few years and, prior to Covid, I developed a series of ulcers on my lower leg. This led to an extended period of home visits and treatment before I finally was able to return to a 'normal' life again - whatever this is. Following this, my doctor suggested a referral to the Green Prescription programme and I found myself in dialogue with Tania from Sport Northland.
"Tania was able to share other activity opportunities in Whangārei and I was able to try several of them out, which is the whole purpose of Green Prescription, and in this case there was a trial of gym memberships, to find out what you enjoy and start the process.
"A friend of mine also suggested we go to Activ8 Gym in Morningside, because they run a class for people aged 60-plus who are looking to increased fitness and, in my case, reintroduce the body to movement and build up some strength.
"I attend once a week and have done so for the past year. Reawakening the ability to have balance control has been a boost. I can now get dressed without losing my balance. We are a purposeful social group with a healthy dose of humour, and I found this reassuring when trying to reactivate.
"Tania and I stay in contact on a regular basis. I share my progress, she keeps me accountable and provides ongoing support and encouragement.
"As well as having improved balance, my cholesterol has nearly halved, and a recent blood test found results all in the normal range. I have more energy and just recently went on an awesome road trip by myself and caught up with friends and family. It feels great to be active again."
If you or your whānau would like some support to get active (or some motivation to stay active after this latest lockdown), ask your health professional for a Green Prescription, or you can do a self-referral on our website sportnorthland.co.nz
• Brent Eastwood is chief executive of Sport Northland.