Following doctor’s orders is about to get more fun thanks to a new initiative announced today by Gov. Peter Shumlin. Under the new “Park Prescription” program, physicians around the state will prescribe to their patients time outdoors in Vermont State Parks as a way to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent chronic health issues.
Sixteen doctors’ offices around Vermont will issue Park Prescriptions, which will entitle patients to free entry at any Vermont State Park. The program is a partnership between the Vermont State Parks, the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the Department of Health, and physicians across the state.
“We all know that the one of the best ways to stay healthy is to stay active,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Luckily we live in Vermont and are surrounded by natural resources that make staying active easy and fun. So listen to your doctor and get outside this summer!”
The health benefits of physical activity are well documented. The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise to help prevent heart disease and stroke. For children, outdoor activity is especially important. According to the National Wildlife Federation, spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues. In 2013, Vermont high school students with 60 minutes of physical activity on all of the past seven days were less likely to be obese compared to the state’s average.
“The collective support of Vermont physicians who know the nearly limitless health benefits of increased physical activity, especially for young people, will only add to our reputation as one of the healthiest places to live in the nation, year after year,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD.
Physicians participating in the Park Prescription program include David Coddaire in Morrisville, John Leppman in Bellows Falls, Robert Tortolani in Brattleboro, Thomas Curchin in Barre, Harriet Shea in Barre, Paul Laffal in Montpelier, Barb Frankowski in Burlington, Alicia Jacobs in Colchester, and Keith Michl in Manchester Center.
“The Park Prescription program is a perfect way to highlight the connection between outdoor recreation and personal health,” said Craig Whipple, Director of Vermont State Parks. “Spending time outdoors, connecting with nature and being active all help keep us strong in both body and spirit. And state parks offer the ideal settings for valuable outdoor time!”
Vermont consistently ranks among one of the nation’s healthiest states. America’s Health Rankings finds that overall Vermont is the second healthiest state in America. And the 2015 Seniors Report by the same organization recently found that Vermont is now the healthiest state in America for seniors.