Americans spend much of their time indoors, eyes and minds focused on screens, often in demanding or stressful jobs. The simple act of stepping into nature can sometimes feel like a form of medicine by giving us the opportunity to engage all of our senses and disconnect temporarily — hopefully with positive effects that come back to the office with us.
Public Radio International (PRI) did a piece recently on a group of doctors that started the nonprofit Park Rx America who feel so strongly about the benefits of spending time outdoors that they write prescriptions ordering their patients to get outside. For a long time these doctors would tell their patients to spend time outside in an effort to improve their mental and physical health, but the patients would always return to the office on their next visit having not taken the advice often reporting the same — or sometimes worse — complaints. Once the doctors started writing their patients an actual prescription to get outside they started to see some real action. According to the article, their patients were more likely to follow through with spending time outdoors once it was prescribed and would often return for their next appointment with improved mental and physical health.
The article reminds us that getting outside provides an accessible and low cost intervention that can greatly benefit people of all ages suffering from chronic illnesses.