The following is adapted from an article that appeared in the Rutland Herald and Times Argus on July 24, 2016.
by Janis Hall
When you think of health care and medicine, you probably think of doctors, hospitals and drug prescriptions. But there’s growing recognition that patients’ daily activities have a huge potential to support good health. For those who are able, getting outdoors can be an effective boost. It is very important to get the body moving while doing activities that reduce stress.
The Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports encourages health care professionals to talk with patients about the importance of exercise to prevent and treat chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and dementia. Janet Franz, representing the council, explained, “There are lots of studies showing that exercise, especially outdoors, has health benefits.”
The Governor’s Council offers the Vermont Parks Prescriptions Program in collaboration with Vermont State Parks. Health-care professionals are provided with pre-printed “prescriptions” for exercise, which are actually free day passes to Vermont state parks. These can be given to patients who will benefit from healthy outdoor activities.
The program is intended to encourage doctors to talk to patients about exercise, and patients cannot get the parks pass prescriptions directly from the council. Practitioners who don’t have the prescriptions may request them from the council at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
The council endorses Exercise is Medicine, an initiative by the American College of Sports Medicine focused on encouraging health-care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients. EIM is committed to the concept that physical activity is integral in the prevention and treatment of diseases, and should be regularly assessed as part of all health care.
There are more than 20 Vermont state parks in the southern half of Vermont, including lakes, picnic areas, historical sites and forests. All but two of these are advertised as having universal accessibility, which means the restrooms are fully accessible and some portion of the park is flat and firm enough for wheelchair and walker access. For more details about the parks, see www.vtstateparks.com , or contact email@example.com or 1-888-409-7579.
Janis Hall is the outreach development coordinator for Senior Solutions–Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont. 60 Plus is a collaboration between Senior Solutions and the Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging. Both can be reached by calling the Senior HelpLine at 800-642-5119.