Doctor’s orders: take a hike

Posted on April 21, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun


If your doctor feels you need some fresh air and a little exercise, the prescription just might be a walk in the park. Side effects may include improved health, contentment and an urge to stop and smell the flowers, in more ways than one.

The ParkRx program, starting April 23, is a designed to help improve wellbeing through regular exercise and promote a healthier lifestyle by engaging with nature.

Here’s how it works. When a health care professional “prescribes” activities that introduce their patients low impact walking and outdoor physical, a patient will receive a paper prescription for ParkRx monthly activities at any participating Sonoma County park or trail.

IMG_3279At Jack London State Park, for example, all fees for specific walks as well as parking will be waived for patients who show the ParkRx prescription when they enter the park.

“We are pleased, along with our neighboring parks, trails and local health care providers, to bring this important public program to the residents of Sonoma County,” Tjiska Van Wyk, Executive Director of Jack London State Historic Park.

“Now we can truly say, a walk in the park is just what the doctor ordered.”

On the April 23 launch day at Jack London Park, an easy one-mile “Wolf House Walk” will be held that includes pre-and post-walk blood pressure checks by Sonoma Valley Hospital, as well as discussion during the walk about physiological response to activities led by Marek Grzybowski, physical therapist and Outpatient Rehabilitation Manager for Sonoma Valley Hospital.

Another activity offered that day is a “Family Hike.” As part of Jack London State Historic Park’s commitment to the ParkRx program, Van Wyk said, there will be ongoing activities at Jack London Park including Wolf House Walks, Family Hikes, Walks with a Doc, and Hiking for Fitness.

In addition to Jack London State Historic Park, the following state and regional parks in Sonoma County are participating in ParkRx: Sugarloaf Ridge; Armstrong; Austin Creek; Sonoma Coast; and Trione-Annadel State Parks, and Sonoma Overlook trail.

The complete list of participating park and trail locations and activities is available at

Sonoma County Health Partners include Kaiser Permanente, St. Joseph Health, Sonoma Valley Hospital, and Sutter Health. Sonoma County residents whose care is provided by a partner health provider are encouraged to ask their doctor for a prescription.

ParkRx is a national initiative that strives to prescribe healthy outdoor exercise though partnerships with public health care providers. It was founded on the idea that parks can be gateways to good health—providing fun, accessible places to get physical activity and to relax and enjoy time with family and friends.

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA