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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Hugh Bollinger
/ Categories: Uncategorized

Healthy hicks

Sometimes the news likes to make us Mountain Westerners out to be hicks. When the coasts remember that it exists, Wyoming is usually mentioned as either the home of a meth crisis or else made up of 95 percent closeted homosexuals. But if we're hicks, we're pretty healthy hicks. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="2506" caption="Grand Teton and Teewinot Mountain, Grand Teton National Park. "][/caption] A study just out says Wyoming kids play outside twice as much as the average kid. And so it's no surprise that some of the healthiest states are in the Mountain West. In a recent Gallup-Healthways study of the healthiest places to live, the Mountain West dominates. Three out of the top ten healthiest states are Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. All the Mountain West states are in the top 20. Three out of the top four healthiest cities are Boulder, Fort Collins and Provo/Orem. My home state of Colorado is consistently the thinnest. Going outside is a big part of that. Not only that, but science is backing up the claim that nature can be a good substitute for Prozac. Hiking between or before tasks helps you pay attention, says a study, and another suggests that exposure to nature may reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The woods are "nature's Ritalin," writes Richard Louv in "Last Child in the Woods," and "to take nature and natural play away from children may be tantamount to withholding oxygen." Even just a view of nature may help your health. One study suggested that, for people in a hospital, a window may make you heal faster. In prison, inmates whose cells faced the courtyard got sick more often than inmates whose cells looked at farmland. A view of nature makes office workers less frustrated and more enthusiastic for work, another study said. This love for the outdoors draws highly skilled workers to the Mountain West. And may, in the end, help create a third coast, a third center of the economy, one built on a healthy, happy, outdoor loving populace. Not on hicks. - RC
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