A hiker in a National Park in Canada
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Doctors in Canada Can Now Write National Park Pass Prescriptions for Medical Problems

Doctors in Canada can now prescribe time in a National Park as treatment.

We could all use a little more time in the outdoors. Most of us already knew that. Now, some patients in Canada may see doctors give them a prescription for more time in nature.

It's called PaRx, and according to their website, it is the first "national, evidence-based nature prescription program."

NPR reports the new initiative, which was started with help from the BC Parks Foundation, is providing doctors in four provinces with 100 free annual passes to Canada's National Parks. It's not a gimmick either. The idea that spending more time in nature can improve the health of a sick person has really taken off in medical circles.

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"Given the growing body of evidence that indicates nature time can improve all kinds of different physical and mental health conditions, we're hoping that our PaRx program not only improves patient health, but reduces costs to the healthcare system, and helps to grow the number of people who are more engaged environmental advocates," BC Parks Foundation Healthy By Nature Program coordinator Prama Raham told NPR in an email.

More specifically, PaRx says that nature helps with conditions like diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. It also says that children who play in nature develop better motor skills and focus. The site states that people can reap the health benefits of nature from spending just two hours a week outdoors.

Before you go thinking this will be an easy way for anyone to get a free parks pass, it should be noted that the PaRx program was designed to prioritize patients who may not have been able to afford an annual National Parks pass otherwise. That seems fair, and a good way to make sure the system isn't abused.

It's an interesting concept for sure, one that aims to get more people outside who may not have previously spent much time in a National Park.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels