Celebrate The Great Outdoors!
Not all prescriptions involve medicine. For instance, this summer Harbin Clinic is writing a prescription to Northwest Georgians to spend more time outdoors to boost their mental and physical health. Dr. Ed McBride, Harbin Clinic’s chief medical officer and chief medical information officer, says, “Overall, our generation tends to be less physically active than previous generations, and we often choose to spend our leisure time indoors. Recharging indoors isn’t bad, but we want to remind people of the numerous physical and mental health benefits that come with spending time outdoors.”
One statistic says the average American spends 90% of their lives indoors. Harbin Clinic’s summer initiative, Prescribe Outside, seeks to decrease that percentage. However, the multi-specialty medical group is aware that ‘getting outdoors’ means different things to different people.
Through a variety of intentional partnerships, Harbin Clinic is aiming to provide an outdoor activity every person can enjoy. From hiking to scavenger hunts to outdoor hip-hop classes, the Prescribe Outside summer events are easily accessible and most of them free. They’re also a great way to be active with family or loved ones. Whatever it is people love to do outdoors, that’s what Harbin Clinic hopes to encourage.
Good for the body, good for the mind
Dr. McBride says, “There’s a mounting body of scientific evidence stating that being outdoors reduces our overall stress hormones.” Cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by the body, impacts our ability to regulate and respond to stress. While having too little cortisol can be dangerous for overall health, having too much can also be harmful. When there’s a lot of stress present—physical, emotional, or otherwise—cortisol levels often become elevated. There is evidence that being outdoors, even for as little as 20 minutes at a time, can reduce the body’s overall cortisol level and raise the natural endorphin level. According to Dr. McBride, proper regulation of cortisol levels play a crucial role in overall well-being.
Making Healthy Partnerships
Harbin Clinic celebrates partnerships with like-minded organizations and groups that share the same mission, vision, and values. One of those organizations is the Coosa River Basin Initiative (CRBI). “The CRBI is really about improving the quality of the water in our region and protecting our vital waterways,” Dr. McBride says. “Through our partnership, CRBI is collecting weekly water samples at popular recreation sights along the upper Coosa River basin this summer.
By publishing these water quality results on their online Swim Guide, together, we hope to better educate and inform the public so they can safely enjoy activities on our local rivers.” The YMCA of Rome and Floyd County and Harbin Clinic are also working together this summer to provide free, outdoor fitness classes at various locations in Floyd County. To view a full list of summer events including 5ks, outdoor concerts, and a summer scavenger hunt, visit harbinclinic.com/prescribe outside.
On a personal note, Dr. McBride points out that when he is away from work, he can often be found outdoors, biking, hunting, fishing, or hiking in the mountains. “I absolutely love the outdoors. I like to float the Etowah from time to time, whether on a paddle board, in a kayak or a canoe. It really does reduce my overall stress level. It’s good for my physical and mental wellbeing.”
Nature is good medicine
“Healthcare is often viewed as an event,” Dr. McBride says, “like when you go to the hospital or visit the doctor’s office, but so much of good health is about everything that happens between those visits.” Harbin Clinic’s Prescribe Outside encourages the community to make a shift in their thinking in this regard and to incorporate outdoor activity into their everyday living.
Dr. McBride says, “There are things we can all do to improve our health, well-being, and quality of life. This campaign is really designed to help people get reacquainted with the benefits of being outside—the mental, physical, and even the spiritual aspects of being outdoors.”