Doctors to offer Ottawa County park prescriptions

Ottawa County
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HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Stressed out? If you’re living in the Holland area, you can now get a doctor’s prescription for park visits.

A pilot program rolling out in Ottawa County allows doctors to use Park Rx America’s online search database to find a nearby park or trail that fits their patient’s lifestyle, then send the patient text reminders to visit their prescribed green space.

Doctors can choose between more than 80 Ottawa County parks, spaces and trails for the prescription. Participating patients can opt-in to answer questions about how they are feeling after their time outside.

The program builds off recent studies that show more time outdoors can positively impact health by reducing stress, improving sleep, lowering blood pressure and improving “social connectedness.”

The findings come as people are spending more time inside and in front of TV, computer and smartphone screens.

“What those researchers are finding is that we were designed to be healthier, to exercise more and to eat more plants,” project lead Dr. Beth Peter said in a Tuesday news release about the program. “Our brains are developed for sunshine and fresh air.”

Officials from Holland, Holland Township, Park Township, Lake Township, the Outdoor Discovery Center and Ottawa County Parks are teaming up with Park Rx America and Holland Hospital Physical Hospital Organization for the program. They hope the program will translate to more park visitors.

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