Visit State Parks for health

A new program, Parks Rx, is encouraging health care providers to prescribe time at national and state parks to improve health conditions such as hypertension and anxiety. Washington State Parks is hosting a series of events Sunday to kick off the program, including at Deception Pass State Park, where this scenery was captured in February 2018.

Prescribing time in nature is becoming popular among medical providers, with time outdoors shown to improve health.

In partnership with the nonprofit Park Rx America, several Washington State Parks are gearing up for National Park Rx Day on Sunday.

The day will involve events at parks across the state and nation.

“Doctors and other health professionals are realizing the healing power of being outdoors and have taken to prescribing parks and other natural areas to their patients using to address diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression and anxiety, among many other lifestyle-driven diseases,” Park Rx America founder and pediatrician Dr. Robert Zarr said in a news release.

In Washington, State Parks is now partnering with health care providers to launch its own Park Rx program to help more people improve their health by enjoying the outdoors.

The goal is for more health care providers across Washington to prescribe time in nature to patients as part of a health care regimen.

“Washington state parks are beautiful places for people to explore, and numerous studies are now showing people can improve their physical, mental and spiritual health by visiting parks, whether to hike, bike, camp or just meditate or read a book in nature,” State Parks Director Don Hoch said in the release.

According to State Parks’ program, prescriptions given by health care providers in Skagit County could read:

n Take a 10-minute walk three times a week on a trail at Deception Pass State Park.

n Read a book while sitting next to the water at Bay View State Park, three times a week.

n Meditate for 20 minutes in the old-growth forest at Rockport State Park, four days a week.

To kick off the program, events will be held Sunday at Deception Pass State Park — the most visited state park that straddles Skagit and Island counties — and Larrabee State Park, which straddles Skagit and Whatcom counties.

n Deception Pass State Park: Meet at the Bowman Bay boat launch at 11 a.m. for a ranger-guided hike.

n Larrabee State Park: Meet at the Bandshell at 7 p.m. for a ranger-led sunset walk to the tidepools at the beach.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199,, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH,

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