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Kudos for the article on veteran Alex Seling’s Mexico border to Canada hike. Scientific evidence for a wide range of nature-related health benefits is growing, and Pacific Northwest residents are positioned to put that evidence to work.

In a classic study, patients recovering from gallbladder surgery occupying rooms with views of trees were discharged more quickly and required fewer painkillers than those with views of a brick wall. Research has shown that exposure to nature can enhance immune function and child development, and reduce depression, stress and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms.

On Oct. 26, the Center for Creative Conservation at the University of Washington hosted the Northwest Nature & Health Symposium. Sponsored by the Bullitt Foundation and REI, it brought together scientists, physicians, community organizers, city planners and others to discuss the health benefits of nature.

Among the many lessons learned, perhaps the most potent was the desire to improve access to nature in a fair and equitable manner. Much work is needed to make nature and the health benefits that come with it accessible to all.

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Josh Lawler, Sara Jo Breslow and Ben Packard, University of Washington EarthLab’s Center for Creative Conservation