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Eugenia South, MD, MSHP: The Benefits of Nature

There is a growing amount of literature showing the physical, mental, and social benefits of nature.

Eugenia South, MD, MSHP

It may be time for providers to start prescribing nature.

In a recent article published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Eugenia South, MD, MSHP, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues detail the importance of addressing all social determinants of health (SDOH). But 1 that is often overlooked is the benefits of being outside in nature.

In a recent interview with HCPLive®, South spoke about the idea of prescribing nature to patients seen in the clinic.

As an emergency medicine physician, a lot of her research is looking upstream to think about how she and her team can make communities healthier and more livable for people. And nature is 1 of those aspects.

Part of South’s research has shown greening vacant lots—turning vacant and blighted lots into green, clean spaces—have been shown to improve mental health. Individuals who live nearby reported feeling less depressed, safer, and socializing more with their neighbors. Vacant lot greening also led to a decrease in crime.

So why is nature so beneficial to our health?

“There is a really growing and vast body of literature linking nature and health,” South said. “There are physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and then just benefits to overall community health.”

To hear more from South, watch the video clip below.