When people visit the doctor, they expect to hear advice about eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and taking their prescription medications as prescribed. But in our digitally enhanced lives, we may be missing out on a fundamental experience that promotes greater well-being – spending time outdoors in nature.
According to a recent Global News report, more Canadian doctors are giving their patients a prescription for nature to improve health. Spending time in natural sunlight and around plants and wildlife can help regulate healthy sleep cycles, boost mood, relieve stress, and provide a dose of vitamin D.
PaRX is a national nature prescription program, launched in British Columbia, Canada, in 2020 in collaboration with the BC Parks Foundation. The program has spread across the country and is used by more than 11,000 healthcare providers who are helping to improve their patient’s health and well-being by connecting them to nature. Patients are advised to spend at least two hours in nature each week, and at least 20 minutes per session.
Connecting with our natural surroundings has been found to not only improve mental health, but studies have shown an improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol, and better diabetes control among people who regularly spend time outdoors in nature. PaRx is planning to launch an app before the end of 2023 to help patients track their time outdoors and monitor their health outcomes.
In the United States, healthcare providers are also increasingly recommending a dose of nature for their patients to improve health, ease anxiety and stress, and boost immunity. Studies have shown that more green spaces in neighbourhoods is linked with better cardiovascular health and a decreased risk of stroke. Taking a daily walk outdoors encourages more movement, less screen time, and the opportunity to decompress. Learn more by following this link to the Park Rx America website.