Prescribing Nature for Better Health

RxWhen it comes to improving the health of children, can a walk in the park be as good as a pill? A growing number of American physicians are betting on it.

“I prescribe nature to patients because it is the easiest way for me to get people outside,” declares Robert Zarr, a Washington, D.C. pediatrician. The National Environmental Education Foundation has made it a mission to turn Zarr and other healthcare providers into “Nature Champions” who prescribe free-form outdoor exercise to their patients.

I listed the sorry state of U.S. inactivity in a previous post. And there’s more I learned at the national Walking Summit:  most American adults spend 90% of their time indoors, 40% of them get no leisure-time physical activity, and their kids park in front of screens 7.5 hours a day.  This has contributed to a doubling of the type 2 diabetes rate in the past fifteen years and the fact that one in three Americans—whether adult or child—weighs too much. Continue reading

Replant Native Trees that Turbocharge Nature

When replanting a tree, choosing just the right native can turbo-charge the natural environment. So says renowned plant expert Douglas Tallamy who has compiled a list of native plants that deliver a bigger biodiversity bang for the buck because they attract more insects, birds and other animals. “All native plants are not equal when it comes to supporting insect herbivores and thus other forms of wildlife.”

The news comes just in time for the northeast U.S. where thousands of trees destroyed in Superstorm Sandy are being replanted by residents and towns which may be focusing more on trees that are “utility friendly” than friendly to the natural environment. Continue reading

In Aftermath of Sandy, Creek Cleanup is a Peace Offering

On the week that Sandy hit, to clean up a creek was therapeutic. Only a few days before, Nature had beset us with such wrath. The Washington, D.C. area got off with a glancing blow, but people to the north were not so lucky. While I couldn’t do much to relieve their suffering, I could do something for Nature. By clearing away some of the human detritus from this small corner of the earth, I attempted to narrow the rift that has grown between us. Continue reading

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