As physicians around the country look for creative ways to keep their patients active and healthy, one new recommendation is beginning to make its way onto their prescription pads: a trip to the local park.

In a recent segment on NPR, DC pediatrician Dr. Robert Zarr explains how he began writing prescriptions for outdoor activity for patients who were not getting enough exercise. From getting off the school bus earlier to visiting a park to play outside, Dr. Zarr knew he needed to find unique, actionable tools to get patients moving that would work around their interests and schedules.

And now, thanks to many months of work by Dr. Zarr and his colleagues — as well as the help of public health students from The George Washington University and a few park rangers — Dr. Zarr’s clinic has a database of nearly 400 parks in Washington D.C. Recognizing that the same prescription won’t work for every child, the database includes important details about each park, including directions, bike rack availability, whether or not the park allows pets, and quality of lighting in the evening hours. In the interview, Dr. Zarr says he understands that each patient’s needs are unique:

I like to listen and find out what it is my patients like to do. Then I gauge the parks I prescribe based on their interests, their schedules – based on the things they are willing to do.

Listen to the full segment on NPR: “To Make Children Healthier, A Doctor Prescribes A Trip to the Park”.

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