Every year, the U.S. National Park Service encourages people and park agencies throughout the country to celebrate National Park Rx Day. The day serves as a means to promote and encourage the unique partnership between parks, communities and healthcare providers to get people to enjoy their community’s parks and nature as a way of preventing diseases, creating healthier lifestyles, and improving qualities of Life.
The initiative to get doctors to prescribe time in the park to their patients is a growing trend – and PBC Parks has initiated our own ‘Park Prescription Program’ – check it out!
Creating a healthier, happier society– one walk in the park at a time
The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is partnering with members of the healthcare community to promote physical activity and improve the health of patients and the public in Palm Beach County through a “park prescriptions” program that connects them to parks and other public lands to create a healthier, happier society.
Across the United States, parks, healthcare providers, public health agencies, and other entities have successfully facilitated physician-patient conversations about active living through “park prescriptions” programs, connecting individuals and families to free opportunities for physical activity close to their homes.
The goal is to have outdoor physical activity serve as “prescriptions” to prevent or treat health problems resulting from inactivity and poor diet. Park prescriptions increase the amount of time patients spend enjoying physical activity and provide physicians and other healthcare providers with a new set of tools to inspire them to improve their health.
Public parks and recreation agencies are an underutilized healthcare resource. They create healthy communities and play a fundamental role in enhancing the physical environments in which we live. Through facilities, outdoor settings, and services provided, they support good health for people of all abilities, ages, socio‐economic backgrounds, and ethnicities. Parks provide a connection to nature which studies demonstrate relieves stress levels, tightens interpersonal relationships, and improves mental health. They provide opportunities for patients to reduce obesity and incidence of chronic disease by providing opportunities to increase rigorous physical activity in a variety of forms. And, they foster overall wellness and healthful habits, such as becoming tobacco‐free and engaging in enrichment opportunities that add balance to life.
In Palm Beach County, there are nearly 120 county-operated parks and natural areas, hundreds of municipal parks, two state parks, a national wildlife refuge, and a number of public lands operated by various entities (South Florida Water Management District, Solid Waste Authority, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). Facilitating health and wellness opportunities is a core service of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. Countless miles of paved multi-use pedestrian pathways and fitness trails, many with exercise stations, can be found throughout the park system. The department has recently brought the indoor gym outdoors with the new John Prince Park Fitness Zone, a completely outdoor facility containing 17 pieces of resistance exercise equipment located underneath a large shade sail, accessible by people of all abilities and fitness levels. The Fitness Zone is free to use and available daily from sunrise to sunset.
Creating healthier residents is a day-by-day, collective effort that involves our dedicated healthcare providers. The next time you reach for your prescription pad, consider adding one more item—an outdoor physical activity in a local park or public land.
Please contact Christopher Korbelak at (561) 966-6649 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you or someone you know may be interested in partnering with the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department to promote physical activity and improve the health of patients and the general public in Palm Beach County through a “park prescriptions” program that connects your patients with public lands to engage in outdoor physical activity to create a healthier, happier society.
Leisure Times also available for your office or facility.