Champaign County Medical Society - Prescription: Nature!

View of Nature

Spending time outdoors and experiencing green spaces and nature has multiple benefits. For human health, it can improve mental and physical well-being. There are advantages for our neighborhoods and community, creating spaces to gather and interact. Also, developing and creating more green spaces helps keep our planet and climate safer.

Spending time in nature is good for the body:

Human Body
  • Reduces stress hormones
  • Lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Accelerates recovery from surgery or illness

Experiencing time outdoors in nature is good for the mind:

Human Mind
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves mood
  • Increases ability to focus
  • Increases energy level
  • Improves sleep

Parks and green spaces benefit communities:

  • Provide gathering places for families and social groups
  • Stimulate social interactions among children
  • Strengthen neighborhood ties
  • Reduce crime

Green spaces and nature help the environment:

Hand and Flower
  • Reduce impacts of climate change
  • Decrease risks of flooding
  • Improve air quality

Learn More!Learn More!

Local Park Districts

The Urbana and Champaign Park Districts, in addition to being committed to nature conservation, provide recreation, environmental, and cultural programs for youth and adults to enrich the community.

Urbana Park DistrictThe Urbana Park District is committed to providing diverse, free and low-cost opportunities for everyone to engage in activities and programs related to the eight dimensions of wellness (physical, social, emotional, intellectual, environmental, spiritual, occupational, and financial). Simply visiting a local park provides a wealth of benefits. Check out this list of the 21 public parks in Urbana, and plan your next visit:

Champaign Park District The Champaign Park District is here to connect you to a vibrant community of people and opportunities. Our 62 parks total over 700 acres of green space! Between paths, trails, and the free fitness trails at Douglass and Human Kinetics Park, the opportunities abound to stay active and enjoy nature.

Articles about connecting nature and health

  • Sifferlin, Alexandra. Healing power of nature., 2016 July 14
  • Franklin, Deborah. How hospital gardens help patients heal,, 2012 March 1
  • Schiff, Jessica and Senft, Rebecca. Nature itself is the best physician. SITNBoston, 2021 May 14
  • Hanski, I., von Hertzen, L., et al. Environmental biodiversity, human microbiota, and allergy are interrelated. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 22; 109(21):8334-9
  • Hartig, T., Evans, G., et al. Tracking restoration in natural and urban field settings, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 23, Issue 2,2003, pp109-123.
  • White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019).
  • Shanahan, D. F., Bush, R., et al. Health Benefits from Nature Experiences Depend on Dose. Scientific reports, 2016, 6, 28551.
  • Nature is healing: Doctors in B.C., other provinces can prescribe Parks Canada passes to patients
  • Ewert A, Chang Y. Levels of Nature and Stress Response. Behavioral Sciences. 2018; 8(5):49.
  • Children & Nature Network - Finding Nature News: Prescribing Vitamin N for children’s health.

CCMS project interns, Samia Abdul-Qadir and Imadh Khan, collaborated with the Champaign and Urbana Park Districts to create the interpretive sign describing the health benefits of being outdoors in nature and links to this page.