Getting patients to increase their physical activity could soon be a walk in the park for Missoula physicians, with the opening of Missoula’s first Prescription Trail at Fort Missoula Regional Park.
Community Medical Center medical professionals can now prescribe a walking regimen along the trail, which is a partnership between Missoula Parks and Recreation and Community. Increased physical activity along the trail can help treat or prevent chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension.
Park prescriptions offer significant benefits and are a good way for people to increase physical activity and improve their health, said Donna Gaukler, director for the city’s parks and recreation department.
“For instance, studies have shown that exercising in nature reduces stress and improves well-being, helps people stick to their exercise regimens, and can result in more time engaged in moderate-to-vigorous exercise,” Gaukler said, adding that the department is eager to work with other area health care providers to designate more prescription trails in town.
People can learn more about the first prescription trail during the Prescription For Fun walk, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Fort Missoula Park.
Walkers can sign up for the free, non-competitive event between 8 and 9 a.m. Saturday at the picnic shelter.
Participants in the event, which is sponsored by Community, parks and recreation, and Run Wild Missoula, will receive a Prescription Trail kit from Community, which includes trail maps and a pedometer, a water bottle and walking tips.
The trail is part of the statewide Montana Trails Rx network, which is part of the Montana State Parks and Bike Walk Montana. The network seeks to connect local medical providers and their patients with parks and trails throughout the state.
Saturday’s event is part of Missoula’s National Public Lands Day celebration at Fort Missoula.
For more information, call 721-7275 or go to missoulaparks.org.