National Park Service Press Release

For Immediate Release:
April 26, 2016
Kathy Kupper,, 202-208-6843

Doctors Warn that Hiking is Contagious: Park Rx Day Events in 26 States Encourage Everyone to Take a Hike

WASHINGTON – Doctors are increasingly writing new prescriptions for an old remedy- time in nature. As part of the burgeoning Park Rx movement, health care providers throughout the country are encouraging patients to use parks to reap the benefits of nature’s healing properties. On April 24, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, health care providers, and hundreds of people celebrated the first National Park Rx Day by participating in outdoor activities.

“Nature is good for us - it is a great antidote to a variety of ailments, including obesity, heart disease, and depression,” said Jarvis at a National Park Rx Day event in Seattle. “A growing number of public health officials now prescribe time in parks for the overall well-being of their patients. In fact, it is becoming a standard medical practice to tell patients to take a hike.”

Nature-based applications to prevent and treat ailments are growing in popularity. In Washington, D.C., health care providers connect green space and park data to an electronic medical record to refer patients to parks for improved physical and mental fitness. In Miami-Dade County, Fla., children receive prescriptions to exercise in parks. And, in Marin City, Calif., the community’s new Park Rx program encourages residents to discover and use national park trails to stay active.

During National Park Week, on April 24, Park Rx Day events were held at 40 sites across the country and included guided walks, educational talks, yoga, wildlife tours, bike rides, and free public health screenings. Dozens of partners participated, including Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, Unity Health Care Inc., D.C. American Academy of Pediatrics, NatureBridge, Institute at Golden Gate, American Hiking Society, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, U. S. Forest Service, California State Parks, YMCA, and Latino Outdoors. U.S. Surgeon General Murthy attended a Park Rx Day event in Rock Creek Park, a national park in Washington, D.C., to encourage visits to parks as part of his larger Step it Up!  Campaign to promote walkable communities.

“We know that an average of 22 minutes a day of physical activity – such as brisk walking in a national park – can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes,” said Murthy. “The key is to get started because even a small first effort can make a big difference in improving the personal health of an individual and the public health of the nation.”

Following is a list of Park Rx Day event locations by state:

Alaska: Sitka National Historical Park

Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

Arizona: Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Tonto National Monument, Tumacácori National Historical Park

California: Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, Yosemite National Park

Colorado:  Rocky Mountain National Park

Washington, DC: Rock Creek Park

Florida: Dry Tortugas National Park, Everglades National Park, Tree Tops Park (non-NPS site)

Georgia:  Fort Frederica National Monument

Hawaii: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

Indiana: Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

Kentucky: Mammoth Cave National Park

Louisiana:  Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve

Massachusetts: Cape Cod National Seashore

Maryland: Assateague Island National Seashore, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Brookside Gardens (non-NPS site)

Michigan: Keweenaw National Historical Park, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Montana: Glacier National Park

North Carolina: Blue Ridge Parkway, Outer Banks Group (includes Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and Wright Brothers National Memorial)

New Mexico: Petroglyph National Monument

Nevada: Lake Mead National Recreation Area

New York:  Gateway National Recreation Area, Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, Statue of Liberty National Monument

Ohio: Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, the Ohio State University campus (non-NPS site)

South Carolina: Congaree National Park

Tennessee: Henry Horton State Park (non-NPS site)

Texas: Big Bend National Park

Virginia: Prince William Forest Park

Washington: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Jefferson Park (non-NPS site), City of Bothell Parks and Recreation Department (non-NPS site)

West Virginia: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park


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