Shetland GPs to begin giving ‘nature prescriptions’

According to Runner’s World, Scottish GPs are to begin prescribing gentle outdoor activities to patients suffering long-term illnesses

We previously reported that GPs were preparing to start promoting nationally-organised sport – specifically parkrun – as a ‘prescription’ for improved health.

Now, doctors in the Shetland Islands are set to begin prescribing other outdoor activities, such as rambling, birdwatching and beach walks.

It is hoped that these past-times will help with mental health issues, diabetes, stress, heart disease and other long-term illnesses.

‘Nature prescriptions’ will include a calendar and a list of walks drawn up by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

These prescriptions are not a replacement for conventional medicine – merely supplements which could be extremely helpful and comforting for patients.

Dr Chloe Evans, a GP who piloted the programme told The Guardian:

“There are millions of different ways of doing medicine but we very much try to involve people in their own health, and people really like being empowered.

“People are always thinking at some level about their diet or exercise or stopping smoking but finding out what works for them is the key. The beauty about Shetland is it has this fantastic wild landscape.”

Helen Moncrieff, the area manager for RSPB Scotland added:

“We would like this to be picked up by other areas or health boards. There is so much evidence that nature is good for us, and this is a simple way to get people outdoors and experiencing nature in a city or wilder place like Shetland.”

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