Michigan App upgrade encourages nature exploration


Mental health and wellbeing have been prioritized in the latest update of the Michigan App.

Nature Rx, a collaboration with Voices of the Staff and Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, is now available for Michigan App users to quickly find a bit of nature near them to explore.

In a 2019 study in Frontiers in Psychology, MaryCarol Hunter, a former School for Environment and Sustainability associate professor, and her colleagues showed that spending just 20 minutes in nature can significantly lower stress hormone levels.

“We believe nature can heal. Think of Nature Rx as your personal tour guide to 100 student-selected spots for indoor and outdoor breaks,” said Katie Stannard, project leader with the Voices Nature Rx team.

“It’s a new take on taking a break in nature: Get there, detach, and just be. We’re grateful for the amazing partnership with ITS to develop this app for the benefit of everyone at U-M — students, staff, faculty, patients, visitors, providers.”

The latest version of the Michigan App with Nature Rx, including a list of nearby locations and a map view, can be found in the App Store and Google Play by searching “University of Michigan.”

Nature Rx areas can be found under the Well-Being tab in the app. Michigan App users also can set other well-being goals with resources through the app, including sleep, mental and physical health, and social needs.

Those looking to get some exercise can view the hours and capacity information for Recreational Sports facilities or find a class or event that fits their needs. Looking to grab a bite somewhere quickly? The Michigan App can show which dining halls or cafes have the shortest wait.

University community members can use the app for information like news articles and location-based content, including bus stops, parking locations, dining halls and featured university events.

“Providing the right technology tools and resources to the U-M community is our priority at Information and Technology Services, and the Michigan App is an example of that,” said Ravi Pendse, vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

“The app is a helpful companion for our community with features like Campus News and Events, Nature Rx and other well-being resources, and emergency alerts. We would love to hear what you think about the app. Please reach out if you have suggestions or other feedback.”

Information and Technology Services is always looking to roll out new features that make the U-M campus more accessible and easier to navigate. Departments or areas are encouraged to suggest new features for ITS to consider incorporating into the Michigan App.

More features are planned for the future, with updates occurring every 30-45 days. Those who would like to become a beta tester for the Michigan App can fill out the form on the Michigan App website.


Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.