Nature As Nurture

Episode Two – Northern Latitudes: Find Your Way PodCast

In recent years studies have shown what many have intuitively known that nature may be the best doctor of all.

“The physician heals, Nature makes well.” – Aristotle

From the time of Greek philosophers to present-day writers like Florence Williams we have long explored the notion and sometimes recognized that nature is a part of making us whole as humans. Now science is giving us the data that this is indeed true.

In this week’s episode, I talk with Dr. Melissa Lem, about Parx a Canadian program that allows doctors to prescribe time outdoors as treatment and Ronna Schreberger, owner of Forest Fix and a guide and naturalist in Banff National Park who runs a forest bathing program.

Nature as Nurture – A Prescription to the Outdoors

We interviewed Dr. Lem for our podcast episode, Nature is Nurture to hear more about the PaRx (Parks Prescription) program and why it is important to spend time in nature.

“…from head to toe, from our brains to our bodies, we are basically evolved
to want to spend time in nature” says PaRx Director, Dr. Melissa Lem.

So what is the PaRx (Parks Prescription) program? If you live in BC, Ontario, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba you can now be prescribed nature time by licensed health care providers from nurses to physicians to physiotherapist.

Included in the prescription is a Parks Canada Discovery Pass which includes access to over 80 national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation area. The program continues to grow with the help of organizations like the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden and Nitobe Memorial Garden who have committed to providing free unlimited admission for program participants.

Sounds wonderful right? But why do you need it?

“…there was a big study that came out in 2019 from the UK that looked at about 20,000 adults
and what it showed is that when you spend 120 minutes or more recreationally in nature each
week that is when you start to report significant greater health and wellbeing” says Dr. Lem.
Just 20-30 minutes a day, 4-6 times a week, will significantly drop your cortisol levels (primary stress hormone) and allow you to restore your conscious attention to help you handle fatigue and irritability.

“… attention restoration theory, so essentially when we spend time in busy urban environments
in front of screens all day… different things that constantly focus us, make us have to focus our
attention to navigate around these obstacles… it tires out our powers of consciousness attention
and increases fatigue and irritability where as with nature its actually the source of soft fascination,
so its interesting, but does not demand constant attention over and over again like cities do.”

For more information about the PaRx program visit: www.parkpresription.ca

Check out our podcast to hear more about the PaRx program from Dr. Melissa Lem.

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