Five ways to reap the mental and physical benefits of the great outdoors.

By Anna Medaris Miller on health.usnews.com | Oct. 13, 2015 | 4:43 p.m.

park-rx-natureA girl under 5-years-old was throwing regular weekend temper tantrums, and her parents complained to Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician at Unity Health Care in the District of Columbia. When he probed about the family’s routine, he learned they were spending the majority of their weekends inside. The fits didn’t happen at school, where the girl had recess.

So instead of labeling the child with a behavioral problem or shrugging and saying, “She’ll grow out of it,” he wrote a prescription advising the family to spend a couple hours each weekend day at a nearby park.

“It sounded like she was starved for some nature,” says Zarr, who in 2013 helped launch DC Park Rx, an initiative encouraging physicians to prescribe time outside to patients and families. He may have been right: When the family returned for a follow-up appointment, the tantrums had stopped.

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