Everyone probably agrees on the importance of staying physically and mentally active, but I think our members also benefit from spending time outdoors enjoying nature. As people spend an increasing amount of time indoors looking at computer screens, there is more and more research promoting both the physiological and psychological benefits of being outdoors. I once asked 93 year old member Fred Dammont what he attributes to his good health and vitality. He told me the strenuous hiking that comes with his nature photography keeps him in good shape. There is a great deal of research that suggests all the nice scenery along the way helps too. An article aptly titled “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning” (December 2012 Outside Magazine) cites a study from Japan that found “leisurely forest walks, compared with urban walks, yield a 12.4 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a 7 percent decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure, and a 5.8 percent decrease in heart rate.” Another study showed those walks in the woods could also significantly increase virus fighting white blood cell counts. You may be familiar with one of the classic studies that showed hospital patients recovered from surgery faster when they had a window view of trees versus a wall. Even patients with a picture of trees and water fared better than those with just the wall. There are endless studies that show the benefits of spending time outdoors in nature, but I’m not sure anyone in this club needs any convincing. However, knowing that great feeling you have enjoying the scenery from the top of the mountain might be having some medicinal effect is just another reason to take some more runs this winter!