Walking in the woods, gardening, doing outdoor activities, thinking about trees and birds…what could be healthier for the head and body? For thousands of years, indigenous peoples have viewed nature as a pillar of their health.
Now this ancient concept is making its way into the medical community. For good reason: For 10 years, science has doubled the evidence that contact with nature helps solve various health problems in both adults and children.
Claudel Petrine Desrosiers
credit: image courtesy
“Spending 20 to 30 minutes in nature significantly reduces the prevalence of depression, lowering blood levels of cortisol — the stress hormone — and blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stimulating memory and creativity,” says Dr.Dr Claudel Petrine Desrosier, Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Family and Emergency Medicine at the University of Montreal and Family Physician at CLSC de Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
In fact, nature’s benefits to physical and psychological health are so numerous that “time in nature recipes” are now part of the arsenal of health professionals here and elsewhere. Prescribed dose: At least 2 hours per week spent in green spaces, 20 minutes or more at a time.
“This recommendation is an interesting overall health metric in the context of climate change adaptation,” notes DrDr Pétrin-Desrosiers, one of the most prominent and credible personalities in Quebec in the field of health and the environment.
The first in Quebec
Launched with great fanfare in May, Prescri-Nature is the first prescription program to appear in Quebec, with the support of organizations representing more than 45,000 health care employees in the province (the prescriber is registered on the web platform).
Quebec’s adaptation of the BC Parks National PaRx Initiative, Prescri-Nature pursues a dual goal: to increase public awareness of nature’s benefits to health and to improve health professionals’ knowledge by providing them with reliable advice and resources.
The program aims to formalize the act of prescribing nature as medicine, by creating a community of practitioners. It is known that a written document, given to the patient and signed by a health professional, will have a greater impact than verbal advice”, according to estimates by D.Dr Petrine Destrocers.
Each dose has its own
The first ophthalmic prescription signed by Dr. Claudel Petrine Desrosiers.
credit: image courtesy
It is not enough to prescribe the same dose to everyone, far from it! The family doctor also takes the time to discuss with each patient his or her favorite activities, time spent outdoors and their relationship to nature in order to customize the prescription.
“For those who rarely leave home and are relatively sedentary, a two hour walk a week in the woods may seem impossible. Together, we determine what they can do in a park near their home. Everyone, including those who live in cities, should enjoy And even in disadvantaged neighborhoods in particular, with access to high-quality natural spaces rich in biodiversity close to their homes,”Dr Petrine Destrocers.
A small revolution is looming
From a medical point of view, Prescri-Nature is in line with social prescriptions in medicine. After sleep, physical activity and smoking cessation, connection to nature is the fourth pillar of health. “Here’s the revolution,” notes DrDr Petrine Destrocers. This is something within our reach, positive for our physical and psychological health and good for our planet. Because it has been proven that people who spend more time in nature are more likely to protect it.”
Prescri-Nature is supported by a large number of partners in the health field, including the University of Montreal School of Medicine. The full list of collaborators is available here.
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