Doctors Prescribing Time Outdoors
At least 4 new studies suggest that connecting with nature
improves our minds and moods. But you already knew that,
The benefits of spending time in forests was extensively
researched in Japan in the 1980s. Researchers there found
that just two hours in the woods could reduce blood pressure
and stress hormones and boost concentration and memory.
Further, chemicals released by trees called phytoncides
actually boosted the immune system. The practice of forest
bathing, or shinrin-yoku, then grew into a national health
program in Japan. It has since spread around the world, with
sessions offered in parks from London to New York.
In the book ‘Last Child in the Woods’, Richard Louv cited 60
studies finding that time outside helped mental and physical
health, and that too much time spent away from nature caused
harm. His website 'Children & Nature Network' lists more
700, Louv recently told The New York Times.
Today, a growing number of Doctors are prescribing 'Time
One doctor who was inspired by Louv's book was Dr. Robert
Zarr, a Washington, DC pediatrician who started a nonprofit
called Parks Rx America to make it easier for doctors to
prescribe time in nature. The site has mapped and rated
parks in the DC area and allows doctors to find parks near
Dr. Qing Li, who wrote ‘Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help
You Find Health and Happiness’, provides the below primer in
the practice. Try this out next time you find yourself
stressed out and near some green space.