How do you feel after a hike in the woods? A walk by a lake? Working in your garden? Riding your bike with friends at a park?

Nature prescribing, one pathway related to social prescribing, recognizes the physical, emotional and mental benefits of connecting with nature. Just seeing nature doesn’t seem to make the difference that fully immersing oneself in nature does. It is the physical activity that is thought to be the key factor that results in health benefits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes nature as “our greatest source of health and wellbeing”.

What are some of the benefits of being in nature? Scientific evidence suggests the following benefits:

  • Reduced risk of chronic disease
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased feelings of wellbeing and social inclusion
  • Reduction in stress, anxiety, depression
  • A boost in one’s immune system

What is the recommended nature ‘dose’?

  • 2 hours/week, 20 minutes at a time.
  • Evidence suggests that the most efficient drop in cortisol (stress hormone) levels take place between 20-30 minutes

Recognizing these benefits, the OACAO is excited to launch our first nature-based project, funded by the Levante Foundation. We had a strong response to our Call for Proposals in the summer and thank everyone who submitted an application. We are pleased to announce and give a shout out to the 10 successful demonstration projects!

  • 55+ Centres, City of Barrie (55+ Parks Tours)
  • Active 55+, Sault Ste Marie (Silver Paddle Society)
  • Active Adult Centre, Mississauga (Seasons in the Garden)
  • City of Cambridge (Guided Forest Walks of Discovery)
  • LA CENTRE for Active Seniors, Toronto (Doug Saunders Gardening Club (DSGC)
  • Life After Fifty, Windsor (Never Stop Exploring – An Outdoor Nature Program)
  • Rendez-vous des aines francophone d’Ottawa (RAFO) (A la decouverte de la nature et ses bienfaits pour lespersonnes ainees) (Discovering Nature and the Benefits for Seniors)
  • The Glebe Centre, Ottawa (Abbotsford Seniors’ Centre Butterfly Release and Nature Walk)
  • University Settlement, Toronto (Nature Within Reach)
  • Upper Ottawa Valley Seniors Friendship Club (Deep River) (Woodsy Wednesday Walks)

We look forward to learning from these projects that will run between the months of September 2023 and the end of August, 2024 and to sharing the results with you.

We have created a Google Drive to share Nature-Based Program resource materials:

And a direct link to our Sept. 15th webinar recording highlighting the benefits to health and wellbeing of immersing oneself in nature:

Questions can be submitted by email to with Subject Line: Nature-Based Programs Question, or by phone, call Toll free 1-866-835-7693, local: 905-584-8125

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