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Canada Physician's Prescribe National Parks to Patients

Publish Date: February 24, 2022
Contact Name: Phillip Imler
Contact Number: GANP Contact Page

Canada is a country with abundant national parks and outdoor paradises and with a new program launched last month, physicians can now prescribe free annual passes to patients who need to reap the benefits of the outdoors as part of their recovery.

Initially, a program known as PaRx was introduced by the BC Parks Foundation back in 2019.  This program equipped healthcare providers with the opportunity to prescribe time out in nature.  The health benefits associated with being outdoors is well documented, but this was a progressive step to highlight this importance and get recovering patients outside.

A typical prescription calls for time outside often in 20-minute increments.  Most patients were advised to spend at least two hours a week in nature with encouragement to do more as possible.  Parks Canada has taken things further equipping physicians with the opportunity to prescribe free annual park passes.

The new program has allotted 100 free initial passes to be leveraged by the healthcare community to serve and support the patients who will directly benefit from being outdoors in a more concerted manner.  This is a first that the year-long passes are now being included as part of treatment regimens.

Prama Rahman, a coordinator for the BC Parks Foundation's Health by Nature Program, told NPR that, "Given the growing body of evidence that indicates nature time can improve all kinds of different physical and mental health conditions, we're hoping that our PaRx program not only improves patient health, but reduces costs to the healthcare system, and helps to grow the number of people who are more engaged environmental advocates."

The Global Alliance of National Parks affirms the benefits that being in the outdoors mentally, physically, and for some, spiritually.  Discover, explore, learn, and protect is at the heart of the GANP philosophy.  The more people engage the wilds and wonders of the national parks, the greater chance they will develop and philosophy and practice of conservation.

The PaRx of the BC Parks Foundation and the free annual pass prescription program by Parks Canada are leading the way with this integral approach to both health and conservation.  Imagine how this prescriptive program may lead to healthier and more positive individuals as well as potentially engage them in conservation efforts.

The United States has a similar program known as ParkRx.  Healthcare providers, community advocates, and park professionals came together to launch the innovative program approximately 10 years ago for patients in the US healthcare system that would directly benefit from the outdoors program.

The global community is turning more inside and sedentary lifestyles which go directly against a healthier lifestyle that is found with active individuals who are outdoors multiple times a week.  As little as 2-hours, a week results in reports of improved general health and overall well-being.

News Source:
  • https://www.npr.org/2022/02/09/1079356799/a-new-program-in-canada-gives-doctors-the-option-of-prescribing-national-park-vi