Doctors Are Prescribing A Daily Dose Of The Outdoors

(CBS) — An hour of outdoor play, keeps the doctors away?

Some doctors have recently started not only recommending, but prescribing patients to get outdoors more.

Michael Suk, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Geisinger Health System and a member of the National Advisory Board at the National Park Service, mentioned at a White House Roundtable session entitled “Health Benefits of Time Outdoors,” the possibility of doctors writing prescriptions for national parks…as in, “Take a trip to a national park once a week and see me in six months.”

Studies show spending time outside can actually treat health problems. And Forbes released a list of 10 Health Problems That The Outdoors Can Help Prevent And Treat, including: Obesity and obesity-related problems such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease; High blood pressure; Depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health issues; Osteoporosis and osteopenia; Nearsightedness; Dementia; Asthma and other lung diseases; Pain and Injuries; Sleep Problems; and, Addiction.

California resident, Anna Munoz and her daughter Raquel visit one of Northern California’s state parks several times a month. The time spent outside isn’t simply for fun, it’s doctor’s orders. The prescription was written by Raquel’s pediatrician to help relieve family stress, CBS 4 Miami reports.

Pediatrician Dr. Nooshin Razani said nature is “absolutely essential to human health.”

Dr. Razani is among a growing number of physicians now prescribing time outdoors for patients.

“And there are actually ways to use nature to treat illness,” explained Dr. Razani.

Research shows being sedentary or spending too much time indoors is tied to chronic diseases like obesity and depression. Experts say spending time in nature provides both physical and emotional benefits.

“There are demonstrable differences in their biology,” said Dr. Razani. “From decreases in blood pressure and pulse and other indicator of stress.”

Dr. Razani suggests children should spend at least one hour a day outside, if possible, and said parents should join them.

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