Dr. Robert Zarr of Washington, D.C. is writing a whole new kind of prescription for his patients. To encourage more exercise, Zarr simply titles these prescriptions, “Rx for Outdoor Activity,” write Sam Sanders and Steven Jackson for NPR. To help them get outside, Zarr has created an entire database full of nearby park facilities, rating them and suggesting different routes based on his patients’ interests. For those who aren’t used to experiencing the outdoors, “A program like Zarr’s can help reduce that discomfort.”
For those patients who agree to try more outdoor exercise, the health benefits can be manifold. First, exercise in general reduces obesity and associated heart and health problems. Furthermore, contact with nature and green spaces eases stress and boosts mental function. In one Scottish survey, posted by the Huffington Post, “outdoor physical activity had a 50 percent greater positive effect on mental health than going to the gym.”
At TLC, we feel that connecting people with nature is essential, not only for physical but for mental health as well. To encourage outdoor recreation, we have created an extensive system of trails, greenways, and community gardens across the Triangle. Trail maps are easy to follow and available for free on our website, and for interested participants we have created trail walks, runs, tours, and children’s programs. Opportunities for outdoor recreation, fresh air, and contemplation support our physical and mental health and vibrancy while reminding us of our place in the natural world.
Want to learn more? Check out our “Connecting People with Nature” video below and our 2012-2013 annual report!