How to Use Outdoor Recreation to Heal

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HEALTHY LIVING  |  6.22.15  |  by Terra Wellington

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woman in sunshine

Photo: Dreamstime/Anikasalsera

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One of our favorite de-stressors is to take a walk.  Just looking up at the blue sky and listening to the birds for 10-15 minutes is a refresher.  Apparently it’s so important that we get outside and enjoy some outdoor recreation in our technology- indoor-oriented society that doctors in San Francisco are now prescribing it as a way to heal.

The Healthy Parks Healthy People campaign has been all about getting the San Francisco Bay residents, park guides, and local healthy providers together to encourage people to get out and do something active in a local park.  And doctors are even writing patients strict prescriptions to get outdoors.

From the San Francisco Examiner

“In some cases … it was difficult for me to even ask about physical activity for the family because I didn’t have a quick and easy solution,” Dr. Curtis Chan, a deputy health officer with the Department of Public Health, said of the challenges doctors faced before a specific park prescription plan was implemented. Today, however, Chan encourages patients and other health care providers to prescribe ACTive Zones identified in The City, known as free, entry-level, drop-in physical activity programs. ACTive Zones include regular Zumba classes taught by Rec and Park officials, and nature walks held each Saturday.

You may not have a “park-time” prescription, but with a little motivation you can reap outdoor recreation rewards.  Here are the benefits of being outside in parks, according to Healthy Parks Healthy People —

  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improves mood
  • Provides opportunities for physical activities
  • Can help reduce blood pressure in some people with hypertension
  • Helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
  • Introduces neighbors to each other

And it’s great if you can do it with your kids too.  Set a schedule — days, times — and walk or jog in a park, and see what activities are available through your local recreation department.  And if your local park system is lacking, talk to your local government about putting more priority into green space.  It’s worth it for you, your family, and your friends.

How are you enjoying your local parks?

Let us know in the comments below

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FIND MORE: Healthy Living, mental health, exercise, outdoors

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