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Canada National Park
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Canadian doctors will soon be able to prescribe trips to the country’s national parks

A new programme will allow health professionals to dole out free ‘Parks Canada Discovery Passes’

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

When you head off to the doctor with yer typical aches and pains, most of the time they’ll prescribe some pretty horrible stuff. Medicines, tablets, injections. Eurgh, gross. But what if they could officially, medically recommend more joyful things? Well, doctors in Canada can now do just that. A new programme in four Canadian provinces will let doctors prescribe time in national parks for patients in need of a bit of the Great Outdoors.

The initiative is called PaRX, and it was formally recognised by the BC Parks Foundation last month. Health professionals who sign up to the programme can offer patients a free Parks Canada Discovery Pass, which would otherwise cost CAN$72 (£42, $57) per year. The general recommendation will be for patients to spend two hours per week in one of the parks.

PaRX claims that access to nature can have several benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. From reducing stress and high blood pressure to cleansing your lungs and boosting life expectancy, the open air seems to be, if not a cure, then at least an antidote to pretty much anything. And its benefits aren’t limited to adults, either: kids can also benefit from better fitness and lower rates of asthma and depression. Hard to argue with all that.

The scheme is currently available in the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, though it’s expected to be eventually expanded to include every Canadian province and territory. Rest of the world, take note!

Did you see that these are officially the world’s most naturally beautiful countries?

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