The Miracle Drug Outside
Ever heard of the miracle drug called “Fiterex”? It cures depression, obesity, heart disease and diabetes – with absolutely no side effects.
Dr. William Bird stunned the crowd when he spoke about Fiterex at a British medical conference on potential new drugs and side effects. His fellow physicians inquired: Was Fiterex approved for use? When would it be available to patients?
Dr. Bird responded that this wonder drug was already available. Fiterex, he explained, was nothing more than regular outdoor exercise.
Rand Wentworth, president of the Washington, D.C. based Land Trust Alliance, says an increasing number of doctors are prescribing their own version of Fiterex, giving patients a prescription for exercising outdoors surrounded by nature.
“Our country is facing a health crisis on a huge scale – a crisis that one researcher calls a ‘pandemic of inactivity’ caused by sedentary, indoor lives that isolate us from nature and from one another,” said Wentworth at a land preservation conference in Trenton.
Today’s kids, he noted, spend nearly eight hours a day on electronic devices. While these devices have opened up a world of information, they also provide “easy, addictive entertainment” that keeps people of all ages from getting outdoors.
“The result is chronic depression and stress,” said Wentworth. Equally devastating are “the epidemics of obesity, asthma and diabetes that can debilitate and kill adults and children alike.”
The good news, according to Wentworth, is that outdoor activity can:
- Improve weight control;
- Improve problem-solving skills;
- Help people cope with stress;
- Increase self-reliance;
- Help patients heal faster after surgery.
Dr. Frances Ming Kuo, a researcher at the University of Illinois, conducted experiments with children suffering from attention deficit disorder (ADD). In one study, she took one group of kids with ADD for a 20-minute walk around the school and another group for a 20-minute walk along a forested trail.
Afterward, the students who had experienced the forested trail showed fewer signs of ADD than those who had merely walked around the school. In fact, Dr. Kuo found the walk in nature was the therapeutic equivalent of a dose of Ritalin!
Wentworth also spoke of Stacy Bare, a soldier who was injured during combat in Iraq. Returning home, he didn’t realize he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dulling his pain with alcohol and drugs, he became a full-blown alcoholic who considered suicide.
Fortunately, a friend had a hunch that spending time in nature could help Stacy. While rock-climbing in Colorado, Stacy had a breakthrough that led him to get sober and healthy. He founded an organization to introduce other veterans with PTSD to the healing power of the outdoors.
“The Pentagon is paying attention and now includes time in nature as part of the recovery for returning warriors,” said Wentworth.
It’s great that you don’t have to wait for a doctor to “prescribe” it. Just spend more time outdoors in nature this year to improve your health and your family’s health. And you’re in luck: New Jersey has many fantastic parks, preserves and trails.
To find a trail near you, visit the New York New Jersey Trail Conference website at www.nynjtc.org, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s trailhead locator map at www.njconservation.org/recreation.htm , the New Jersey Trails website at www.njtrails.org or the New Jersey Hiking website at www.njhiking.com.
And if you want to challenge yourself, join the “Step Into Nature Challenge.” You decide on your personal goals – for example, hiking 100 miles – and New Jersey Conservation will help you achieve them. Go to http://www.njconservation.org/StepIntoNatureChallenge.htm for information and registration.
And to learn more about preserving land and natural resources in the Garden State, visit the New Jersey Conservation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.