Dr. Robert Zarr works with kids who suffer from obesity and diabetes in the Washington, D.C. area. When he wants his patients to spend more time outdoors, he looks up green spaces on a database and gives them a prescription to, literally, take a walk in a park.
Zarr created a system, called Park Rx, that makes it easier for other doctors to do the same. He worked alongside the National Park Service and the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as other groups, to map out and rate 380 parks. Each was rated for activities, cleanliness, safety and accessibility by public transit.
When doctors are working with patients, they can ask about their physical activity and interest, then print a page detailing parks with maps and pictures based on their answers.
Zarr is now also hoping to develop a mobile app that will ask users if they have been outside recently, as well as other questions about vital signs.
Since Park Rx's launch last summer, 30 doctors have began using the system and gave out more than 500 prescriptions.