Prescription Trails – Get Up and Get Moving!

Posted on 18. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Healthcare, Social/Cultural

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, when Dr. Julie B., considers a patient’s health issues she can offer a choice of treatments. Dr. Julie B., tells her patient, “I can give you medicine that will treat one condition and cost money, or I can give you a prescription for physical activity that will help prevent a whole range of diseases, is free, and will last a lifetime.”

If the patient is interested, she writes up a walking prescription with the patient and provides it with a guidebook to accessible walking trails. The patient now has a clear way to accomplish a physical activity goal. The epidemics that result from an indoor, sedentary lifestyle requires action from all sectors of society. Parks and public lands are an underutilized healthcare resource that can and must be used to help solve the problem

Prescription Trails Program

Prescription Trails identifies walking and wheelchair rolling routes that are both safe and accessible to patients and families to promote healthy lifestyles. To make sure that people engage in appropriate levels of physical activity, healthcare professionals assess their patients for readiness to start or maintain a walking program and then write tailored prescriptions based on their current physical condition. Being physically active is key to living longer, healthier, happier lives and can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lowers the risk for certain diseases.

Walking programs can contribute to the treatment and prevention of a number of constant conditions such as diabetes, depression and high blood pressure. Information about parks and trails are available by zip code, making it easy for people to see what is available in different areas of the city. Increased use of public parks and trails may lead to support for more information about the resources for walking paths in parks and improvements in pedestrian access on public streets.

For more information on the Prescription Trails Program, visit including maps of parks and trails, safety tips and a short video.  Prescription Trails currently has programs in Albuquerque, Bernalillo County Open Space, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, each of which has active coalitions that support the local program. Each coalition has a standard collection of tools to help patients fill their prescriptions, including a Prescription Trails walking guide booklet to local “approved” parks and trails, with photos and detailed information about park locations, amenities, and trail. Expansion programs are underway in Roswell, Alamogordo, Rio Rancho and Las Vegas.

Written and submitted by Charm Lindblad. She can be contacted at:


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