Exercise prescriptions


Regular physical activity benefits both our physical and mental health and is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and factor in disease prevention. Physical activity is also a highly effective treatment for many types of chronic diseases. The Ministry of Health through their Green Prescription primary health care exercise initiative actively encourages health professionals to prescribe physical activity as part of general patient health management.

This is a simple, effective and inexpensive method of improving quality of life and health outcomes. As part of the Green Prescription, support is given through the health professional maintaining contact during the exercise prescription period, as well as via input from physical activity providers and regional sports trusts. 


By the end of this short course you should be able to:

  • Understand the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)* recommendations for exercise pre-participation health screening.
  • Be able to prescribe physical activity and exercise for the treatment of common chronic diseases.
  • Be able to identify patients which require further evaluation (including specialist review and exercise tests) prior to starting an exercise programme.
  • Have an understanding of some of the barriers to implementing an exercise programme and be able to mitigate some of these.

* In NZ we follow the established ACSM recommendations because they are generally considered to be the most well recognised international guidelines for exercise prescription.


Once you have completed this short course and quiz, please click 'submit' where you will be taken to the results page. From here you can print your certificate for 1 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hour.


This content was written by Dr Karen Falloon MBChB, FRNZCGP, PhD, and updated by Dr Helen Joyce Fulcher MBChB, DipPaed, PGCertHSc(Sports Med), in 2021.

The material is presented by the Goodfellow Unit (GFU), an accredited continuing medical education/ continuing professional development (CME/CPD) provider for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and functions under a tripartite agreement between the Goodfellow Foundation, the College and the University of Auckland. The Unit is located within the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, and within the School of Population Health.


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