Robert Zarr is walking from his Columbia Heights medical practice toward Meridian Hill Park, talking about what’s going on inside his head. If you could see his brain on an MRI, he says, far more extensive regions would be lighting up than if he were having this same conversation sitting at his desk.
Zarr, a pediatrician at Unity Health Care’s Upper Cardozo Health Center, has a special interest in the unseen benefits of getting outside. He is the “physician champion” of DC Parks Rx, an innovative community health program committed to combating the woes of urban living by prescribing time outdoors.
Zarr mentions obesity, diabetes and mental health disorders as he walks. “It only takes a couple of kids” with symptoms of ADHD to disrupt a classroom, he says, and teachers start recommending their parents talk to pediatricians about Ritalin or other medical interventions. Continue reading