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By ARep | November 21st, 2013 - 12:51pm
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DeCroce Bill a Prescription for Wellness for Obesity-Related Health Conditions

Individuals with obesity-related conditions which may be treated with exercise would be given free access to State parks provided they have a physician’s prescription under legislation introduced by Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce.

The bill, A-4490, would create “Prescriptions for Parks,” which would allow practitioners to write a prescription for a New Jersey State park pass for individuals diagnosed with obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and heart disease, which maybe treated with exercise.

“Healthcare practitioners cannot emphasize enough the importance of exercise as part of a individual’s treatment program especially for those with metabolic, respiratory and cardiac conditions,” said DeCroce, R-Morris, Essex and Passaic. “This measure provides those suffering from these diseases an incentive to not only exercise, but an opportunity to do so outdoors, surrounded by the beauty of our state’s natural resources. Treadmills and exercise bikes are great for physical fitness, but there’s nothing like a hike, a jog or swim in the forests and lakes or rivers found in nature.”

The special pass would be valid for free entrance and parking to all 50 State park facilities. A prescription would be good for two 12-week sessions and would have to be renewed, otherwise an individual would be required to pay regular entrance and parking fees. The bill also calls for the Division of Parks and Forestry to develop a brochure for suggested workouts within park facilities, utilizing already established activity programs and trails.

“Our State parks are an underutilized resource,” stated DeCroce. “By incentivizing residents to exercise and visit State parks citizens will be healthier, insurance companies will shoulder less of a burden, healthcare tax dollars will be saved and New Jersey’s beautiful parks will be highlighted and enjoyed.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adult Americans are considered obese and at risk for numerous health conditions, including diabetes, coronary disease, respiratory disorders and osteoarthritis. It is estimated that at least 10 percent of the nation’s healthcare costs are caused by obesity.

The program proposed by DeCroce is similar to others implemented in New York, Chicago, Indiana, New Mexico and California.

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