In the Atlantic Magazine I came across an excellent article by James Hamblin, “The Nature Cure: Why some doctors are writing prescriptions for time outdoors.” Doctors are literally prescribing time outdoors. Traditional western doctors including pediatricians are writing prescriptions for their anxious, diabetic, and obese patients to visit certain parts for specified periods of time, just as they would write take 1 pill 3 times a day! Additionally, a new practice called ecotheraphy, nature based exercises intended to help both mental and physical health, is gaining traction around the country.
Our modern world is so full of electronics, big city living, and constant digital connections through social media, email, and texting. Even now as I write this on a laptop, I am not in nature and my eyes are filled with the computer light halo, rather than natural sunlight filtering through trees.
According to the fascinating article in The Atlantic, children with ADHD who regularly play in parks have milder symptoms. Moreover, researchers in the United Kingdom found that people who participate in physical activities in natural settings experience less anger, fatigue, and sadness.
All of this sounds to me like a prescription for spending more time this year hiking, exploring, and relaxing in nature.
Do you think time outdoors can help with physical and mental medical issues? I’d love to hear what you think!