Outdoor Rx: A prescription for active time in naure

Published on March 18, 2022

Outdoor Rx postcard

Weld County, Colorado — The Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment (WCDPHE) is promoting an initiative called Outdoor Rx, which is a collaboration with Thriving Weld and other health care providers and behavioral health specialists to send their patients outside for active time in nature.

Outdoor Rx was initially developed in 2018 as a pilot project and has now been revamped to include details on municipal parks, trails, and playgrounds. "We are excited to showcase many outdoor places in Weld County for people to experience nature without having to drive to the mountains or foothills," says Olivia Egen, MPH, Public Health Initiatives Supervisor at WCDPHE. "Outdoor Rx is designed to help connect people to nature right where they are living."

"Research shows that when people spend time outdoors in nature, they feel better, they have less anxiety, the immune system is strengthened, and even creativity can be enhanced," Egen says. Health officials say health benefits from nature can begin with as little as 10 minutes of reflective time outside. "Any amount of time outside is good for you," Egen says. "The more time outside, the better the effect."

Maps and details about each of the over 30 local municipal outdoor areas in Weld County are listed on the Thriving Weld website. "Our plans are to expand the Outdoor Rx initiative beyond health care prescriptions to also include schools, community groups, and worksites in the promotion of our outdoor resources in Weld County," says Mark Lawley, WCDPHE Executive Director.

Suggested activities for Outdoor Rx include walking, reflection or meditation, yoga, and gardening. For more about Outdoor Rx, including maps, community resource guides, and prescription pads, go to the Outdoor Rx webpage.