August 9, 2023

Structured Physical Activity icon Structured Physical Activity

I wear three hats in my professional life:

  1. I’m a pediatrician working primarily with under-resourced and historically marginalized patient populations.
  2. I’m a nature champion, promoting the health benefits of spending time outside in nature.
  3. I’m part of a leadership team that advocates for anti-racism, diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in patient care.

For many who see my work from the outside, my hats all seem separate, but, for me, these three roles work synergistically to allow me to help my patients access significant and lasting health benefits.

Health Benefits of Nature
Numerous studies link spending time outside to experiencing better health outcomes including lower blood pressure and heart rate, better immune system function, lower levels of stress, and decreased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Studies also demonstrate a link between nature exposure and improved cognitive function and development, brain activity, sleep, and mental health (including decreased risk of depression and anxiety).(1) But as many as 100 million people in the U.S. — 30 percent of the population — lack access to the benefits parks and green spaces provide.(2)

Inequities in Park Access
Many historically marginalized communities cannot access high-quality and safe parks and green spaces due to a combination of racial and economic disparities. This may mean that these resources do not exist near them, or, if they do, they may have damaged play equipment, be poorly maintained, or have criminal activity or other conditions that make the parks feel unsafe. A lack...

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