National ParkRx Initiative: Using park prescriptions to encourage physical activity

April 8, 2017

According to the ParkRx initiative obesity costs the United States nearly $190 Billion per year. Roughly 29 million people in the United States are currently diagnosed with diabetes.  The National ParkRx initiative is a collaborative effort with the purpose of using nature and public parks and land of decrease obesity and diabetes rates through increased physical activity.  This is done through Park prescription programs that are developed in cooperation between park and public land managers, physicians and other healthcare providers, as well as, through the connections of community and non-profit organizations.  These groups work together to allow people to use green space (parks, trails, and open space) through increased access, development of programming, and furthered education on the benefits of nature.

The Initiative cites two main outcomes to Park Prescription programs:

  1. Park Prescription Programs Improve Health Outcomes by:
    • Encouraging a change in behavior
    • Improved individual and community health
    • Produce advocates for public lands.
  2. Park Prescription Programs Improve Public Lands. The Initiative’s goal is that by increasing time spent outside individuals will again see the benefits of spending time in natural environments. The Initiative hopes that as people realize these benefits they will be more likely to become land stewards and advocate for the protection of these spaces.

The following program in Albuquerque, NM is a great example of collaborations between land managers, program administrators and health care providers. If your program is looking for a national initiative to collaborate with, the ParkRx program may be the perfect partnership.