A doctor explains why he prescribes time outside to his patients.
I have been giving out old-school paper prescriptions for about two years now, where I prescribe non-pharmaceutical steps that have been proven to make people healthier.
I had heard that nature can make people happier and healthier, but, embarrassingly, I envisioned it for more “outdoorsy” people like me, whatever that means. Also, I assumed it would offer just a slight bump in the happiness quotient.
Nature employs the mind without fatigue and yet enlivens it. Tranquilizes it and enlivens it. And thus, through the influences of the mind over body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.
It took almost 150 years, but science has verified that statement almost word for word, including by researchers associated with the Greater Good Science Center. While much of the research has been done in the U.S., Japan is where the science has been most readily embraced. Starting with research on blood pressure and stress hormone levels in the early 2000s, there is now a medical specialty in forest bathing—an activity in which more than a quarter of Japanese partake. There are nearly 100 officially sanctioned forest baths where the benefits have been demonstrated, with guides to help visitors get the most from their time. In Japan, the director of the ministry of forestry is a social scientist, not a botanist, which hints at the country’s commitment to health-through-nature. Trees are seen more as a mental health resource than one that can be extracted for profit.
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