Something us outdoor people knew all along
Birdwatch for long-tailed ducks. Search for shells. Sketch some snowdrops.
These are some of the prescriptions you might receive if you go to a doctor in the Shetland Islands of Scotland and say that you are suffering from stress, heart disease, diabetes, mental health problems or other chronic conditions.
Starting Oct. 5, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) in Shetland has authorized doctors there to prescribe time outdoors, The Guardian reported. Doctors will pass out pamphlets written by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) advising patients on walks to take and wildlife to watch out for.
The Shetland doctors are only the latest in a growing number of healthcare providers incorporating nature into their treatment plans as evidence mounts for the health benefits of time spent in wild spaces. In his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv cited 60 studies finding that time outside helped mental and physical health, and that too much time spent away from nature caused harm. Now, the website of his Children & Nature Network lists more 700, Louv told The New York Times.