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Nature prescriptions – Check out Park Rx America!

Posted on July 26, 2019

As a provider of parks and recreation, the Carol Stream Park District has partnered with an organization called Park Rx America to provide people with park locations throughout the community.  Healthcare providers are also working with Park Rx America to “prescribe” activities and time spent in parks to improve health and wellness.

Taken from the Park Rx America webpage – parkrxamerica.org – “Park Rx America is a non-profit organization whose mission is to decrease the burden of chronic disease, increase health and happiness, and foster environmental stewardship, by virtue of prescribing Nature during the routine delivery of healthcare by a diverse group of health care professionals.”

“Exercise is medicine,” is stated on Park Rx America’s website, and we at the Carol Stream Park District obviously agree. First of all, green is good. Breathing fresh air and taking in the beauty of the nature around us, our parks and lakes, is good for overall mind health. Exercise, no matter what type you enjoy doing, is good for overall body health. Exercising outdoors, around parks and lakes, improves both overall mind and body health; and to us, that is a bonus to living in this community.

Here’s some statements taken from an infographic posted on the Park Rx America website. The statements are not anything new to anyone that advocates health, but they deserve a mention to remind us that nature is important to mental and physical well-being:

  • Outdoor activity improves both mental and physical well-being more than indoor activity.
  • Spending more time in parks translates to being more physically active.
  • Spending time in nature decreases anxiety and negative thinking and lowers levels of depression and stress.
  • Spending time in nature is associated with better cognitive development in schoolchildren.
  • The closer we are to green space, the less we suffer from cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, mental health, respiratory, neurological and digestive diseases.
  • Diabetics who spend more time in nature are more physically active and show better blood sugar control.
  • Spending time in nature helps to decrease high blood pressure.

Using Park Rx America website’s “Find Parks” tab, a visitor can search for the community in which he/she lives to find nearby parks.  Or, a traveler can search an area in another state for parks. A search for parks can be filtered down, for example, to sports facilities, swimming, pets, trail activities, general amenities (such as water fountains or grills), and much more.

We provided a list of all Carol Stream Park District’s parks with addresses and amenities to Park Rx America and are on their website map. However, we continue to work with them to provide accurate data about our parks. When you click on a park pointer, you can then click on “Directions”. This button takes the visitor to Google Maps. At this time, some of the “directional” data directs visitors to incorrect addresses on the Google map, so we’re working to fix that. We recommend that visitors to the Park Rx America website double check the directions to the park(s) given on the Google map. We’re also double checking parks’ amenity data provided to Park Rx America. So our presence on their website map is still a work in progress, but we want to give our community the information about Park Rx America now because their website is a very resourceful tool when searching for parks across America. Only ten states remain to be populated on the website. The website provides interesting infographics, articles and nature and health videos that can be used to introduce people to free medicine – nature!

So getting back to nature and to health, Park Rx America has been partnering with healthcare professionals across the country to “prescribe” parks and other natural environments to improve health, bringing the outdoors into medicine. Based on well-established mental and physical health benefits, these nature prescriptions encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy green space. Understandably, pharmaceutical prescriptions may be alongside these nature prescriptions, but nature prescriptions are more beautiful and can become a positive lifestyle choice for long-term health and wellness.

Check out Park Rx Americahttps://parkrxamerica.org/about.php

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