Skip to main content

Friday Field Notes banner image

We began our exploration of Outdoor Rx, a new and innovative way of improving health outcomes through nature-based recreation, in February of this year.  Outdoor Rx has proved to be a much-needed approach to wellness in the early months of 2020.  Let’s take a look back at what we have learned together so far.

Broad Benefits of Nature-Based Recreation

In the Introduction to Outdoor Rx we started with an overview of what Outdoor Rx is, how it is related to Total Force Fitness, and how it can be beneficial for military families.

“Outdoor Rx is a prescription for individuals to get outside with the mission of improving mental and physical health through nature-based recreation.”

The Friday Field Notes explored each of these topics further, beginning with Improving Health Outcomes Through Nature-Based Recreation.  This post explored ways in which Outdoor Rx is a preventative measure to combat some of the biggest public health concerns in the United States including heart disease, diabetes, and depression.  To prevent such diseases, Outdoor Rx is an initiative that advocates for the use of existing green space to improve health outcomes for all individuals.  To learn more about how states are implementing such “nature prescriptions”, take a look at the Colorado Case Study.

person hiking on mountain

Pixabay [Hiking Trekking Adventure by StockSnap, August 9, 2017, CC0]

Benefits for Military Families

Outdoor Rx has implications for military families which was explored in Outdoor Rx & Its Importance for Military Families.  Military families face challenges that are unfamiliar to civilian families and may require support to develop resilience and strong family ties that help them endure changes of station, deployments, and the uncertainty that can come along with military life.  Communities, as well as parents’ perceptions of them, play a huge role in developing connectedness that can support military families through difficult transitions.  There are many resources available through the Cooperative Extension System like 4-H & Positive Youth Development and Military Teen Adventure Camps that can benefit families with adolescents.

Focusing on active duty service members and veterans, we explored how nature-based therapy can be used for suicide prevention and treatment of various substance-use disorders.  We also took a look at programs like Morale, Welfare, and Recreation and how they can support nature-based initiatives for military families.

Total Force Fitness

Total Force Fitness (TFF) was also a primary reason for beginning this series.  The environmental domain of TFF was mostly negative and focused on conditions that must be survived.  While that is important, especially for service members, we wanted to also highlight positive interactions with the environment that are beneficial for the general population and for military families.  This blog post recognizes that not everyone has equal access to green spaces, however, and recommends simple ways to get outside (i.e., barbecuing, gardening, or recycling).

Image of TFF domains with environmental domain emphasized

How COVID-19 Impacts Outdoor Rx

A significant part of the Outdoor Rx series was also COVID-19, unfortunately.  As the virus became more of a concern in the United States, we discovered multiple sources urging individuals to find safe and responsible ways of enjoying the outdoors to promote mental and physical well-being.  During this pandemic, we promoted outdoor activity and community connectedness through blogs like Community Involvement During COVID-19 and How to Stay Active in Nature During COVID-19.  We hope that despite the circumstances and uncertain times, you and your family have found creative ways to stay active and healthy outdoors.

Additional Resources

The Outdoor Rx series has been a learning experience for those of us in OneOp Community Capacity Building and we hope that it has been for you as well.  Be sure to browse through some of the wonderful resources and articles below.

Park Rx

Institute at the Golden Gate

Slate Magazine

Forbes Magazine


Children & Nature Network

North American Association for Environmental Education

We are looking forward to exciting programming to come!  Follow us on Twitter for updates and other fantastic resources!