Reflections on Covid-19 and Spending time in Nature from Richard E. Kreipe, MD, FAAP, FSAHM, FAED

“The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly a sobering wake-up call regarding how interdependent we are all-on each other-around the world.  It is important for each of us to do whatever we can to reduce the risk of our acquiring or transmitting this potentially deadly contagious disease.  Public health measures such as avoiding or minimizing close interpersonal physical contact in tight quarters by staying home or “self-quarantining” indoors are certainly appropriate and necessary elements to reduce its spread. 

However, wearing my public health, I am also concerned about possible unintended consequences of such physical, mental and social isolation, especially if prolonged.  Yes, it is possible to maintain social contact by connecting with others by telephone, text or on-line.  And this AED response is wonderful in many regards regarding beneficial support.  But, I believe that there is one potential therapeutic outlet available that is not being mentioned: connecting with Mother Nature. 

Having majored in Ecology in college and celebrated the inaugural Earth Day in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970-50 years ago-I am a strong believer in the power of not just being outdoors, but being outside with Mother Nature-to heal.  It’s important for us all to realize that walking on a sidewalk or in a park, biking along a street or a path, sitting outside in a wheelchair or on a bench, especially using whatever senses we have hearing birds or a babbling brook, seeing clouds come and go, even just being outside in rain or snow, all offer an experience that cannot be duplicated being holed-up indoors.  Cornell University’s Dr. Donald A. Rakow studies human benefits of spending time in nature (…).   Not only does being outside with Mother Nature offer healing in itself, it also carries no risk of either acquiring or transmitting COVID-19, unless a person comes upon an infected individual and spends more than 5 minutes in close proximity…

As a pediatrician, I am especially concerned about the effects on kids of having their daily structure destroyed with schools, gyms, museums and other gathering places closing.  So, please consider taking kids, with whom you might be isolated, with you when you go outside.  Yesterday, I walked around Highland Park in Rochester, New York, and before I returned to my car, I hugged tree…





Richard E. Kreipe, MD, FAAP, FSAHM, FAED

Professor Emeritus, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics

Golisano Children’s Hospital, University of Rochester Medical Center

Rochester Director, New York State ACT for Youth Center of Excellence

Medical Director, Western New York Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders

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