There is an emerging trend in healthcare that is shifting focus from the mere treatment of disease to the promotion of wellness.
A couple of years ago, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital teamed up with the Appalachian Mountain Club to launch Outdoors Rx. This initiative is designed to combat disease which stems from inactive lifestyles — like childhood obesity, Type 1 diabetes, and asthma. Doctors are prescribing outdoor activities to patients. These prescriptions are then filled by the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Prescribing the outdoors — this is brilliant.
Outdoors Rx is giving new meaning to “giving someone their walking papers.” The truth of the matter is that too many Americans live sedentary lifestyles and should get out and walk or bike or swim or whatever the doctor orders.
Honestly, watching Bear Grylls slide down a rocky hill from your easy chair or playing video games does not burn many calories. Many health issues are related to poor diet, lack of activity, and a lack of exposure to fresh air.
Dr. Christian Scirica, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said, “In addition to the widely known benefits of physical activity, research studies have found that exposure to natural environments also improves physical and emotional health. Exposure to the outdoors has been found to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, Vitamin D deficiency, depression and anxiety, and may even improve attention.”
In addition to the physical benefits, spending time outdoors has the added benefit of improving mental health. Imagine that!
I applaud the doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital and other doctors around the nation who are proactively doing something to fight the problems caused by nature deficit disorder — spending too much time indoors.
When it comes to your health, don’t wait for a doctor to give you a prescription. Take the initiative to get outdoors, get your heart rate up, and breathe fresh air. Do something hard and feel the burn. Doctors are reporting an improvement in the health of patients who are venturing out to neighborhood walking and biking trails, to state and national parks, and other outdoor settings.
Those of us who live in Texas have the benefit of 95 state parks and natural areas plus some amazing national parks to enjoy year round. Regardless of where you live in the Lone Star State, you are within easy driving distance of outdoor adventure at one of our many parks. You can bike, hike, run, climb, swim, camp, or just relax and enjoy the fresh air.
I recommend spending a few bucks on a Texas State Parks Pass. A park pass will make it more convenient to venture to any park, even at the last minute. In addition to enjoying free entry, a park pass will entitle you to some nice discounts on campsites and other park amenities. And, the modest cost of the card helps maintain our parks for all to enjoy.
So, don’t wait for a doctor to prescribe the outdoors. Write your own prescription to get outdoors and enjoy all that Texas has to offer.