Great Outdoors Month – currently underway – is bringing attention to the relationship of outdoor recreation and health and fitness.  Physicians for Healthier Americans Through Fun Outdoors (PHATFO) is “laying the groundwork,” according to an article published by the National Park Hospitality Association this week, for real progress in the initiative to link outdoor recreation to improved health for all Americans.

Dr. Michael Suk, an orthopedic surgeon and former White House fellow and Dr. Daphne Miller, a family practitioner, medical school instructor and writer met with the Surgeon General and top Dept of the Interior, Health and Human Services and Agriculture officials – the NPHA reported – to open doors for coordinating using the eight million civilian Federal employees and family members as “vanguard troops” in promoting preventive actions and healthy lifestyles.

Most importantly, Drs. Suk and Miller were reported to have gotten agreement from the Federal officials for inclusion of a 21st Century Great Outdoors Strategy to be delivered to the President by mid-November, as part of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.  This allows the strategy to be considered as one of the President’s initiatives in the FY 2012 budget and could result in recognizing public lands, such as our national parks, as elemental to improving mental and physical well being.  The NPHA described this as potentially revolutionizing our concepts of health maintenance.  An end benefit is that this may help fund recreation infrastructure on public lands that supports healthy activities, such as trails.

We enlist the power of partnerships to promote visitation to America’s national parks!