Participating healthcare practitioners in Centre County recognize the health benefits of spending time in nature and may write you a special prescription: Prescription PARx. There is no co-pay for this prescription—it’s free!
Attend one of the Centred Outdoors guided events, or visit the site(s) your doctor prescribes, at your own convenience.
Which healthcare providers participate?
Contact the Mount Nittany Physician Group for participating physicians. If you receive healthcare from another group, contact Centred Outdoors to learn how to participate. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 814-237-0400.
Centred Outdoors aims to help families get outdoors—and with good reason. Over the past few decades the amount of time that the average kid spends outdoors has dropped dramatically. One study found that about half of all 5- to 12-year-olds now spend less than an hour a day outside.
Yet the simple act of getting outdoors brings some striking health benefits. A variety of studies find kids who spend a couple hours outdoors each day see improved school performance, reduced risk of myopia, and better ability to focus--including kids who have ADHD.
Other research finds that adults who spend time outdoors may lower their blood pressure, experience improved mood, have lower levels of the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline, and see improved immune response, better sleep patterns, and faster recovery from surgery and illness.
Research has demonstrated the many health benefits of spending time in nature. The Japanese even have a name for it: they call it forest bathing! How can something so simple as a walk in the woods produce such dramatic results? One simple reason is that exposure to sunlight helps your body make vitamin D, which is essential for immune system health. Early morning exposure to sunshine resets your biological clock, so you sleep better at night. And sunshine triggers the release of serotonin, improving your mood.
There are the particular benefits to getting close to all that greenery as you walk through the woods. Trees release airborne chemicals called phytoncides to protect themselves from insects and fight off plant diseases. These chemicals have antibacterial and antifungal qualities, and when you breathe them in, your body responds with improved immune system function.
Getting outside is an adventure--there’s so much to see, hear, smell, and touch. Going to a gym might seem like a chore, but walking, hiking, and paddling are fun, easy, and sociable ways to get exercise—and regular exercise helps with controlling weight and managing diabetes and heart disease.
What do you need for an outdoor adventure? The most important item is comfortable footgear. Sneakers are ok for walks on the flat; if you’re tackling a steep rocky trail, like the one up Mt. Nittan, lightweight hiking boots will give you much needed ankle support.
Apply sunscreen and SPF-rated lip balm before you go, and protect yourself with sunglasses and hat. Use insect repellent if you’re susceptible to bites.
You’ll warm up as you walk and cool off when you stop for a break, so dress in layers. Try a windbreaker or fleece jacket over a quick-dry t-shirt.
Take a lightweight daypack, and stock it with these essentials:
Binoculars are essential if you’re scanning for birds. And leave the trail better than you found it--bring a bag to collect trash.
Questions about Centred Outdoors? Please call ClearWater Conservancy at 814-237-0400 or email email@example.com.