Getting plenty of exercise and fresh air is common advice from physicians. And now a group of doctors around Vermont is actually writing prescriptions that include free entry to Vermont State Parks.
The new Park Prescription program is a collaborative effort between participating physicians, the Vermont State Parks, the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the Vermont Department of Health.
Gov. Peter Shumlin announced the new program last week. He commented, “We all know that ... one of the best ways to stay healthy is to stay active. 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!”
Physicians participating in the Park Prescription program include David Coddaire, in Morrisville; John Leppman, in Bellows Falls; Robert Tortolani, in Brattleboro; Thomas Curchin and Harriet Shea, in Barre; Paul Laffal, in Montpelier; Barb Frankowski, in Burlington; Alicia Jacobs, in Colchester; and Keith Michl, in Manchester Center.
Program proponents say the health benefits of physical activity are well documented, especially for children. 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.
According to a Vermont Department of Health study in 2013, Vermont high school students with 60 minutes of physical activity on each of the previous seven days were less likely to be obese, compared to the state’s average.
Vermont was recently named the second healthiest state in the U.S. by America’s Health Rankings and a 2015 Seniors Report by the same organization named Vermont the healthiest state in America for seniors.
Vermont Health Commissioner Harry Chen commented in a press release, “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."
Even without a prescription, a day at the park is a bargain by medical remedy standards. Adult admission is $3 per day, admission for children under 14 is $2 and kids three and under are free.
This post has been updated.