Through this formal statement, the WMS stands alongside other organizations such as The National Recreation and Park Association and the CDC. WMS recognizes the importance of outdoor recreation to public health and support improving access to recreational opportunities and continuing research efforts., The CDC for example, in conjunction with the National Park Service, built The Healthy Community Design Initiative, also known as the Built Environment and Health Initiative
. The current administration has cut funding to the program; however, during the previous administration the program provided tools to help communities include health in their planning and development processes. Much of their focus was on access to outdoor places for physical activity such as parks and trails. Organized recommendations to federal state and local governments and encouragement from networks of organizations will hopefully improve access to recreational opportunities and advance research efforts.
The momentum of value based care and the proven health benefits of outdoor recreation have made possible the conception of clinical tools such as park prescriptions and referrals to outdoor organizations as potential clinical treatments. Park Rx America
is one organization that provides clinical tools to providers that desire to prescribe nature and publicly accessible land and water or other protected areas to their patients in the clinical practice setting. However, this may not quite be ready for widespread use in general clinical practice, as there are still insufficient program resources, lack of available recreation spaces, and limited research on the underlying mechanisms and effective dose and duration of outdoor recreation.
The new statement is consistent with the mission of the WMS to encourage activities to improve the scientific knowledge of the membership and general public in human health activities in a wilderness environment. Along with teaching, practicing and investigating wilderness medicine, WMS supports physical activity through adventures and explorations all over the world; it also recognizes the unique exercise- independent benefits and activities attributed to outdoor recreation and pledges to support creation and maintenance of existing public lands and outdoor spaces for the purposes of outdoor recreation. Wilderness is good medicine and the WMS will work with relevant stakeholders to encourage continued research on the clinical uses of outdoor recreation.