Healthy Parks, Healthy You

New partnership focuses on health benefits of being outside at Dane County Parks

Apr 13, 2021

SSM Health and Dean Health Plan are honored to partner with the Foundation for Dane County Parks and Dane County Parks on the “Healthy Parks, Healthy You” initiative. The three-year partnership reflects our shared goals of improving health and providing inclusive programming.

Over the next three years, we will partner in finding new, creative ways to engage youth, seniors and their families in improving their mental, physical and emotional health through the use of our beautiful Dane County Parks system.

Though we are at the early stages of planning, SSM Health intends to begin offering Prescriptions to Parks through their providers and the Dean Health Plan network. We will increase awareness of the relationship of parks and nature to health. Under safe public health guidelines, we will also offer seasonal health-related activities and events. We will encourage family health and help families build a greater familiarity and comfort with the variety of parks available right here in Dane County.

“We know that spending time in nature has significant physical and mental health benefits for everyone,” says Dr. Mark Thompson, President of Medical Groups for SSM Health Wisconsin. “As Wisconsinites and Dane County residents, we are incredibly lucky to have access to the beautiful Dane County Park System. We are excited to showcase these incredible resources through the ‘Healthy Parks, Healthy You’ initiative.”

Time spent in nature has a multitude of mental and physical health benefits. Research shows some of the following benefits:

  • A 20-minute walk in nature improves concentration and, in some cases, can reduce the need for ADHD and ADD medications in children.
  • A 30-minutes walk in a park can improve heart health, circulation and lower blood pressure.
  • A 5-minute walk in nature improves mood, self-esteem and relaxation.

Frequent exposure to nature reduces anxiety and depression, while promoting a sense of well-being and fulfillment.

“Dane County Parks, trails and natural areas are providing a critical service to community during this pandemic. Visitation through these challenging times has been up over 25 percent, over 4 million visits,” said Joe Parisi, Dane County Executive. “Our parks provide innumerable health benefits and enhance overall well-being. Dane County is thrilled to partner with SSM Health, Dean Health Plan and the Foundation for Dane County Parks to promote the outdoor environment and provide public access to all members of our community. Our services are enhanced through stronger community partnerships.”
Not only will this partnership focus on our shared values of community, but also stewardship. By caring deeply for the health of our environment, we will help improve the overall health of our communities.
“A park is not just a piece of land, it is a vibrant source of community pride and well-being, and a place where people can renew and improve their emotional and physical health,” said Bill Lunney, President of the Foundation for Dane County Parks. “We are excited to partner with SSM Health, Dean Health Plan and Dane County Parks to promote the health benefits of nature to all people of Dane County for many years to come. So as spring arrives, visit our beautiful County Parks, renew your sense of wellness and look for our 'Healthy Parks, Healthy You' programs.”

The “Healthy Parks, Healthy You” initiative was formally announced during a short press conference on March 23. Visit our wellness page to view our flyer with information about new parks highlighted every month. 

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