Posted by William on September 7, 2011
‘You should get a doctor’s prescription to be inactive, not visa versa,’ said Anne Seeley, Communities Coordinator, California Department of Health Services (CDHS), during the opening keynote at the National Trails Symposium 2010.
Dean Tice, Executive Director of the National Recreation and Park Association echoed Seeley’s sentiment in his closing keynote saying, “We have challenged doctors to prescribe such activities [as hiking, biking, trail use] instead of writing prescriptions for drugs to achieve the desired result.”
“The average child spends more time watching TV than going to school,” continued Seeley. According to research reports from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 percent of children are obese, and less than 10 percent of all children walk or bike to school (compared to over 75 percent 30 years ago).
A recent Surgeon General’s report announced obesity is an epidemic, sighting 65 percent as “couch potatoes.” The report indicates over 55 percent of all adults are overweight, putting them at a high risk for cancer, heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes and other disabilities caused by physical inactivity. Combined, these ailments (directly related to obesity) are the second leading cause of death in our country costing us over $100 billion a year in healthcare expenses. Hiking can help prevent these ailments and reduce these costs.
“My belief is that the best way to reduce the high cost of healthcare is through ‘prevention programs,’” said Tice.
Furthermore, many people don’t realize that in addition to reducing obesity, hiking can lengthen a lifespan by two years, reduce risk of heart disease by 35 percent, reduce healthcare costs by 25 percent, increase employee productivity and — just confirmed — physical activity also decreases the risk of impotence according to CDHS studies.
Nature as a Therapist
In addition to the physical benefits, according to studies done by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, moderate walking improves concentration, enhances memory retention and creativity, thus improving learning ability and problem-solving skills. The Foundation also found children’s moods improved for up to two hours following physical activity.