Medical Program Prescribes Nature and Parks to Patients

Aug 5, 2016

Everyone knows that being in the great outdoors is good for you, but could nature be prescribed just like medicine? Absolutely, say some doctors in South Florida. One study is doing just that to find out how time spent in nature affects patients.

Barbara Licari, a retiree living in Broward County, says she frequently takes walks in her local park with her grandchildren. She says she feels better after even a short nature stroll.

 

Parks Rx patient Barbara Licari with her granddaughter Thea Forsythe
Credit Michal Kranz/WLRN

“It’s preferable to medications,” she said.

Licari participates in a new program called Parks Rx. Alex Luna, a doctor at the Metcare Office in Plantation, says the program encourages people to become more active.

“You can increase the likelihood that a patient will be more in nature by giving them a park perscription,” Luna said.

The year-long program will help physicians measure changes in patients’ quality of life. They will also monitor things like weight, blood pressure, and glucose levels.

Doctor Yogi Hernandez Suarez, the chief medical officer at Metcare, says the program, started by Humana, is meant to contribute to a growing body of evidence that nature is good for you.

“There’s a breeze, there’s ambient noise...what you feel and sense is so different and clearly scientifically we’re finding that that makes an impact,” she said.

How big of an impact? We’ll have to wait until next year when the study concludes to find out.