From the State Department of Conservation and Recreation:
Virginia State Parks are partnering with the national organization Park Rx America to help more people enjoy the outdoors. The nonprofit Park Rx America works with doctors to prescribe nature to patients as part of routine healthcare.
“Doctors and other health professionals are realizing the healing power of being outdoors and have taken to prescribing parks and other natural areas to their patients using ParkRxAmerica.org to address diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression and anxiety, among many other lifestyle driven diseases,” said Park Rx America founder and pediatrician, Dr. Robert Zarr. “Prescribing parks in the office or hospital has never been easier, with now more than 8,500 parks nationwide, including 877 parks in Virginia.”
The 38 Virginia State Parks host millions of visitors a year.
“This is a great program that introduces people to nature in a whole new way,” said Virginia State Parks Director Craig Seaver. “People who might not have given a second thought to Virginia State Parks or their local parks may listen when a doctor advises them to get outdoors. Numerous studies support what the medical community is recognizing; that time in nature provides the opportunity to rest and renew. This program encourages people to plug into parks to recharge and improve their physical, mental, and spiritual health.”
The Virginia Beach-based STIHL Inc. is the first corporation to join the initiative.
“Caring for nature and caring for the wellness of our employees are long standing core values for STIHL. Our relationship with state parks and Park Rx America perfectly ties those values together,” said Roger Phelps, corporate communications manager for STIHL Inc. “We are proud to be the first corporate supporter of this program and are confident that our employees and their families will benefit from prescribed time outdoors and in our beautiful Virginia State Parks.”
The 38 award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and offer dozens of festivals and concerts and thousands of educational programs across the state.
For more information about state park activities and amenities or to make reservations in one of the 25 parks with camping facilities or 20 parks with cabins, yurts or family lodges, call the Virginia State Parks Customer Service Center at 800-933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.