Visits to national parks, historic sites can now be prescribed by doctors in Canada

National Parks in Canada
Photo credit Getty Images

Visiting a national park is just what the doctor ordered!

SimpleMost reports that patients in Canada are leaving doctor’s offices with an unusual script – free passes to visit the country’s national parks.

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Over 1,000 doctors, nurses and other licensed health care professionals are part of the ParX initiative provided through the BC Parks Foundation.

Healthcare providers who believe in nature’s ability to heal can register with the service and get a provider code that allows them to prescribe Parks Canada Discovery Passes.

According to the outlet, the passes typically cost $72 but if prescribed, they are covered in full!

“We are very lucky in Canada to have a world of beautiful natural spaces at our doorstep to enjoy healthy outdoor activities. Medical research now clearly shows the positive health benefits of connecting with nature,” Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, who is also responsible for Parks Canada, said in a statement. “This exciting collaboration with PaRx is a breakthrough for how we treat mental and physical health challenges, and couldn’t come at a better time as we continue to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily lives.”

Led by Dr Melissa Lem, a family physician, PaRx gives “a prescription for nature” by providing admissions to national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas.

The program boasts about the health benefits of spending time in nature and discovering the wonders of the outdoors while suggesting that even 2 hours a week makes a huge difference.

This isn’t far off from the claims made by the American Psychological Association, which believes that time spent outside has been shown to have cognitive benefits, along with an increase in happiness and well being, and improved social interactions.

“There’s almost no medical condition that nature doesn’t make better,” Lem previously told the Independent.

Currently available in British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, this is the first program to provide an annual national pass via a visit to the doctor, but let’s hope it’s not the last.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images