Lake County doctors writing ‘green’ Rx for walks in nature

Linda Blaser
lblaser@pioneerlocal.com | @LindaJBlaser
July 28 5:41 p.m.

Walk with Docs

Stroll through nature with doctors and naturalists:

8:30 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 3, Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

8:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 9, Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve

1 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 17, Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve

6:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 21, Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

For more information, click here.

Local doctors are writing “green” prescriptions for their patients to get them outside and moving.

The Lake County Forest Preserves, the Lake County Health Department and NorthShore University HealthSystem have teamed up on a Walk with Docs pilot program this summer. A physician and naturalist co-lead weekly one- to two-mile trail walks in Barrington, Grayslake, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Long Grove, Mettawa, Riverwoods, North Chicago and Waukegan.

The first Lake Forest walk, to be held at the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3. A second Fort Sheridan walk is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 21.

“The intent is really to get people out onto the trails for both their physical health and their mental health,” said Mark Pfister, director of population health services at the Lake County Health Department.

Walking is a perfect activity because it is low impact and the forest preserve setting reduces emotional stress, he said.

Naturalists and physicians lead each walk, which brings doctors and counselors together with their patients in a non-clinical setting. Doctors model good physical behavior for their patients and naturalists help participants explore nature, which showcases and highlights the county’s trail system.

The dual-leader also gives participants a chance to ask a lot of questions.

“If somebody wants to talk about certain health issue they’re having, they’ll have a doc to talk to. If they want to ask what bird call they’re hearing or what the name of a wildflower is, they’ll have a naturalist to ask,” he said.

In the pilot program, walk venues and start times vary, from 8:30 a.m. on the weekends to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays to give organizers a good handle on what days, times and locations work best.

Participation has been good, Pfister said, with fall dates to be added to the original summer schedule. Check www.lcfpd.org/walkwithdocs for a complete list with additional dates and times as they are added.

“We want our Lake County residents to be as healthy as possible and to be actively engaged in activities that lead to good health,” Pfister said.

All walks are free, open to all ages and held rain or shine. Anyone under 16 needs to be accompanied by an adult. Pets are not allowed.

Walk with Docs

Stroll through nature with doctors and naturalists:

8:30 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 3, Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

8:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 9, Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve

1 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 17, Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve

6:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 21, Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

For more information, click here.

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