Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Parks instead of meds? Take a hike? That may be the advice Rochester doctors start giving some of their patients.

The Olmsted County Board is being asked to join a growing national trend involving parks. The board Tuesday is scheduled to vote on a proposed memorandum of understanding with an organization called Park Rx America.

According to its website:

Park Rx America is a non-profit organization whose mission is to decrease the burden of chronic disease, increase health and happiness, and foster environmental stewardship, by virtue of prescribing Nature during the routine delivery of healthcare by a diverse group of health care professionals.

One of the main purposes of the MOU is to allow the county to use the Park Rx website to promote its parks. The county Parks Dept. has been working with Mayo Clinic and other health care officials and area recreational entities on this initiative. If the proposal is accepted by both parties, the department will work closely with the Minnesota DNR and Rochester City Parks to offer a variety of parks in the area to health care providers around the country.

Here’s more info from the county board agenda item:

In October 2013, the Institute at the Golden Gate and the National Recreation and Parks Association, with support from the National Park Service, convened a group of practitioners to discuss the emerging trend of prescribing nature to improve mental and physical health. This group of park agencies, healthcare providers, and community organizations were inspired by the concept and eager to support Park Prescriptions as they moved beyond initial pilot tests into the mainstream. This group developed the National ParkRx Initiative with the goal of supporting the emerging community of Park Prescription practitioners. Since that time, the number of Park Prescription programs has increased significantly, nationwide. Park Prescription programs (also called ParkRx) involve health or social service providers encouraging people to spend time in nature to improve their health and well-being. In our community, all health providers from social services to Mayo clinic doctors can begin to incorporate prescribing activities in the parks to help address various mental and medical needs of their patients. Park Rx America is a non-profit organization that created a website database as a tool to help connect health providers with information about parks in their area. Park agencies register their parks and upload information for each of the parks including location, directions, programming and amenities offered. Health care providers are then able to access information on all the registered parks to easily find the most suitable park to fit the needs of the patient for their prescriptions to the outdoors. Providers can then click on the preferred park and print out an information sheet for the patient.


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