February 28, 2011
A Prescription for Nature May Help Bump the Blues
By Chad Love
Feeling dragged out and down? Are you sick in body and spirit? Maybe your doctor needs to write you a prescription for a day in the woods.
From this story in USA Today:
Here's what Matias Rojas Perez first saw on a trail walk in the Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge: a wild rabbit dashing past, a 3-inch-long endangered fish, soaring birds and creeping snakes. Here's what his doctors saw: a chance for 200-pound, 5-foot-3, 10-year-old Matias to grow healthier. Instead of an order for pills, pediatricians at the Children's Heart Center in Las Vegas have given Matias, his mother, who is diabetic, and his 9-year-old, 136-pound little brother, a "nature prescription."
More than 100 of the 553 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges such as Moapa are part of a national consortium of federal parks and the National Environmental Education Foundation now using this prescription tactic. It's funded by a $75,000 grant to improve family health through a two-year pilot project linking the federal agencies with health care providers. The aim is to turn doctors, nurses, teachers and therapists into "nature champions" who steer children and their parents into the outdoors.
It's a whole lot more than just saying, "take a hike." The prescription, an "Rx for healthy living," prompts families to eat more fruits and vegetables, step away from the TV or video screen and go outside to breathe fresh air, awaken their senses, and shed some weight. Using the prescription format gives the psychological oomph of doctor's orders to simple suggestions for diet and workouts disguised as nature walks. Each prescription comes with easy-to-follow maps to nearby refuges and parks where outdoor experiences are led by rangers and volunteers.
Sounds like a great program, but it obviously needs to be expanded to include hunting and fishing. I'm sick of winter and I desperately my doctor to prescribe a day on the water...