A walk in the woods, in the desert, or even a city park can boost both your mood and your health—but access to nature isn’t always equal. A group of scientists, healthcare researchers and community practitioners, including nearly a dozen representatives from the University of Utah, want to change that. In 2022, the group created the Nature and Health Alliance (NHA)—and their movement has support and financial backing from the REI Cooperative Action Fund.
Recently, I found myself back in my hometown in the state of Rhode Island for a weekend visit. On Sunday morning, I decided to take a walk on a newly developed trail that was the old Girl Scout camp when I was growing up. As I moved through the woods on my solitary journey, the familiar landscape brought me back to my childhood. As a boy growing up, my family’s house abutted a large forest of several hundred acres. My friends and I would spend hours running through the woods, playing games, and building forts. On my hour-and-a-half hike, I passed three groups, each of two middle-aged women. The trail, which led to a beautiful salt water lake, was virtually empty, even though it was a gorgeous sunny day with temperatures in the upper 60s. So where was everyone?