Social Prescriptions to Enjoy Better Health

What does it mean to be healthy?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “health is not merely the absence of disease but is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.”

In Christina Caron’s recent New York Times article, When the Prescription is for a Dance Class, not a Pill, she describes a new practice, called social prescribing, whereby health coaches or providers connect people with social activities to improve their well-being.

The good news is that social prescriptions can be a part of anyone’s plan to seek AND ENJOY better health.

That’s because there are so many social activities that can improve both mental and physical well-being as they complement other treatment modalities for various health conditions.

Whether you want to better manage your weight, diabetes, depression, loneliness or high stress level, here are some social prescription ideas:

1-Connect with Nature

Research has shown that being in contact with natural environments can improve mental health and well-being.

This can be as small as taking more outdoor walks during your normal workday to building in weekend walks in forest preserves to actually planning vacations around natural parks and outdoor touring sites.

Pay attention to positive changes in your mood and stress level when you’re surrounded by nature.

Walking outdoors can quickly become a dependable and enjoyable de-stressing and mood-boosting activity.

Additional health benefits may include improved sleep and eating behaviors.

2-Learn a New Skill

One person may be interested in dancing, yoga or meditation while others may want to improve their golf or painting skills.

These activities can challenge one’s body and mind to be present, live in the moment, improve their abilities and stay engaged with others socially.

Finding other people who share your passions can help you feel more connected to the world.

If you don’t have the time or resources right now to take an in-person class, remember that virtual classes may be available till you’re ready for an in-person group experience.

Turn “shoulds” into “wants” by nurturing a sport, activity or hobby that you really enjoy.


Whether you volunteer locally or contribute your time to a national cause that’s meaningful to you, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose.

Volunteering can nurture new and existing relationships which is good for your mental health.

Time spent volunteering can be a great stress reducer, which we know is good for your heart health and overall mood.

If you’re shy about volunteering by yourself, try enlisting a friend or family member to join you.

The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), an organization I’ve been involved in for over a decade, has many volunteer and advocacy opportunities available.

Working together for a common cause makes us all stronger.

If you want to learn more about weight and health from top experts around the country, check out the OAC’s upcoming Your Weight Matters Virtual convention May18 and 19, 2024.


Robert Kushner, MD

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