More doctors prescribing a daily dose of the outdoors - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

More doctors prescribing a daily dose of the outdoors

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OAKLAND, Calif. -

Several times a month, Anna Munoz and her daughter, Raquel, take time out to stroll through one of northern California's state parks.

"That's a long, long walk!" Raquel said.

But this time outside isn't simply for fun, it's doctor's orders. A prescription from Raquel's pediatrician to help relieve family stress.

"Take a walk and simple conversation, breath and enjoy!" Anna said.

"Nature's absolutely essential to human health," said Dr. Nooshin Razani, a pediatrician and clinical scientist.

Razani is among a growing number of physicians now prescribing time outdoors for patients.

"And there are actually ways to use nature to treat illness," Razani said.

Research shows being sedentary or spending too much time indoors is tied to chronic diseases like obesity and depression. Experts say spending time in nature provides both physical and emotional benefits.

"There are demonstrable differences in their biology," Razani said. "From decreases in blood pressure and pulse, and other indicators of stress."

Anna says she can see a difference in her daughter and herself after their time outdoors.

"I connect with myself, with my freedom; that's helped me a lot," Anna said.

A walk in the park helping to improve their family's health.

Razani suggests children spend at least one hour a day outside, if possible, and says parents should join them.

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