What is Green Prescribing?
Also known as Green Care, Nature for Health, and Nature Based Interventions, this is part of Social Prescribing. The idea is that we utilise the well-evidenced benefits of nature for our health and prescribe Green (being in or around nature) and Blue (being in or near water) to our patients.
This could be something really simple, like having lunch outside in a green space, keeping a plant in the house, or taking a walk beside a local river or stream.
Dr Katie Blissard Barnes has produced a whole CPD accredited module on this topic, and a green prescription for you to use in practice, in our Lifestyle Medicine In Clinical Practice course.
Do you feel it?
How many of us feel revitalised when we walk along the riverside, or by the sea?
How many of us feel relaxed after a stroll in the local park with a friend?
How many of us, when we’re feeling exhausted, get an energy boost by simply getting outside into nature?
If you experience any of these regularly, you are practising Green Care on yourself, even if you’re not labelling it as such.
What about your patients?
How many of them are getting out into nature regularly, as part of their normal daily or weekly routine?
It may seem like a simple thing, but there is a strong and evidenced connection between being in nature and our health. Nature based interventions have been shown to have a measurable positive effect on physical and mental wellbeing.
Is Green Care and Green Prescribing effective?
New Zealand has been delivering Green Prescriptions for several years. A recent study to review their benefit found that those who had received a Green Prescription 2-3 years prior, did on average an additional 64 minutes of activity each week.*
There are benefits of Green Care for health care professionals as well. For example:
Any activity in or involving nature will have a general positive effect on mood and health, but there is more to it than simply going for a stroll in the park on a sunny afternoon.
Targeted Green Care interventions can be prescribed for all sorts of physical and mental health conditions, and there are many different activities and programmes available as part of social prescribing.
If you’re interested in learning more about prescribing Green Care to your patients, our Lifestyle Medicine 2: Lifestyle Medicine in Clinical Practice course has a whole module devoted to this topic, with all the evidence, case studies and signposts, and even a green prescription you can download for your patients.
How you (and your patients) can start practising Green Care
This is a great time of year (especially with the weather we’ve been enjoying lately!) to start practising Green Care regularly, and fitting it in to your normal daily or weekly routine.
Try these simple ideas for yourself – or encourage your patients to give them a try as a simple way to start getting some Green Care into their days:
With thanks to Angela Goyal and the Inspired Medics team for this insightful article.
* Hamlin. M, Yule. E, Elliot. C, 2016, Long-term effectiveness of the New Zealand Green Prescription primary health care exercise initiative, Public Health, 140, pp 102-108