Lifestyle

Physician Assistants Prescribe Healthy Hikes in Georgia”s State Parks

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Unicoi State Park

Everyone knows that exercise is one key to being healthy, but not everyone enjoys going to the gym.# Georgia”s State Park system has teamed up with the Georgia Association of Physicians Assistants (GAPA) to make healthy living a bit more fun.# Through the new “Rx for Fitness”# Program, physician assistants can prescribe healthy hikes in the great outdoors, and patients can turn in their “prescriptions”# for free park passes.

“Rx for Fitness”# is part of the State Park system”s new Tons of Fun Fitness Challenge which encourages citizens to use outdoor recreation as part of their regular exercise.# Park visitors may find that exploring a canyon is more fun than a step machine, and that hiking along a waterfall burns more calories than a treadmill.# The parks also offer less traditional exercise, like lake swimming, geocaching and disc golf.# Even some state historic sites offer walking trails in beautiful settings.

Members of GAPA will be able to help their patients in a new way, by identifying those who need more exercise and suggesting they go for a hike.# By trading their “prescription”# for a free pass, patients will not need to pay the $5 parking fee on their first visit.# Those who decide that regular hikes can help them meet weight-loss goals can choose to buy an Annual ParkPass.

“We are so excited to offer a new and unique way of showcasing the benefits of outdoor recreation,”# said State Parks Director Becky Kelley.# “When exercise is fun, people tend to stick with it for much longer.# It becomes part of their daily lives, and they have a better sense of wellbeing.# Another benefit of visiting state parks is being able to bring your friends and family along with you.”#

“Rx for Fitness”# will launch today at the GAPA winter meeting.# It is funded by The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.

“Rx for Fitness is a creative way to give more kids and families access to healthy outdoor activities,”# said John Bare, vice president of the Blank Family Foundation. “Better fitness is a walk in the park.”#

To learn more about the new “Rx for Fitness”# program, visit TonsofFun.org.# The website also offers free advice from a personal trainer and nutritionist, healthy recipes, a health journal and more.# To explore all of Georgia”s State Parks and Historic Sites, visit GeorgiaStateParks.org.