Doctor’s Orders: More Outdoor Time For Kids

Doctor’s Orders: More Outdoor Time For Kids
On a recent summer day, local Bay Area families streamed off the bus, eager to explore the park and participate in the Crab Cove Visitor Center programs. It may not seem like your typical pharmacy, but these families are following doctor’s orders by participating in a new partnership between UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (CHO) and the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD): Park Prescriptions. The goal is to reduce chronic obesity and promote physical activity among children.

Dr. Nooshin Razani, a physician at CHO, says, “Getting outdoors benefits physical and mental health, and encourages families to get to know and love the place where they live. The Park District is a tremendous partner and ally in this mission.”

Dr. Razani is a leader in the Bay Area medical community with the “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” coalition. A growing number of physicians are concerned with children’s health and their disconnection from nature and the outdoors. The statistics are alarming, with obesity affecting one-quarter to more than one-third of young people in the United States. Rates in African-American and Hispanic communities are disproportionately higher. Childhood obesity can lead to health concerns and complications including asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Attention-deficit disorders and vitamin D deficiencies also plague our youth.

Kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from time spent outdoors. Studies show that time spent in nature can help stressed-out, “nature-deficit” adults, too. In Japan, Shinrin-yoku — the practice of “bathing” all five senses with time spent in…
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