Forest Therapy Suggests A Decline in Daily Stressors, According to Ancient Practices and Modern Research

written by
Bruno Rodrigues

Artwork by

Benju Pan
Walking in nature (forest therapy) can boost your mood, strengthen your immune system, reduce stress and anxiety, inspire creative thinking, be fun and educational, improve observational skills and cognitive function, lose weight and help you sleep better, and all together add quality years to your life.

WE PARTNER WITH AWESOME FOLKS WHO'S PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ARE IN ALIGNMENT WITH OUR VISION AND MISSION! THIS POST MAY CONTAIN PARTNER LINKS, MEANING Our Magazine WOULD RECEIVE A COMMISSION IF YOU CLICK THE LINK AND BUY SOMETHING ON THE LINKED PAGE [AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU].

WE EXPLAIN WHY WE DO THIS ON OUR LINK DISCLOSURE PAGE.

Table of Contents

You can use our illustrations for your website or project for free, or get a fine art print or NFT :-)

Everyone has stress. It is a normal part of life. You can feel stress in your body when you have too much to do or when you haven’t slept well. You can also feel stress when you worry about things like your job, money, relationships, or a friend or family member who is ill or in need. 

If you live in a big city, you are likely to feel it even more. The fast pace of a busy and noisy city with long commutes, filled with the never-ending traffic of rush hour are just a few examples that can make a day seem longer than it really is.

For this reason, taking breaks has been shown to be important in recovering from stress, which can, in turn, improve your performance at work or help see complex problems as simpler ones, which can be more easily resolved. 

Recovering from work stress can restore energy and mental resources and decrease the development of fatigue, sleep disorders, and cardiovascular disease. However, while staying at home or going on a trip are excellent ways to disconnect, there can still be some stress associated with chores, house maintenance, and bills, to the stress of booking hotels, catching connecting flights, or renovating your passport.

Sometimes you just need to escape into nowhere. Somewhere remote, with peace and quiet. Nature has proven, time and time again, the many benefits it has on human health. Every year researchers are finding more evidence that nature and walking have significant improvements on your mental and physical health. And just to be clear, this doesn’t mean that we all need to go live in the woods for a month. A simple, short-timed walk, in a calm and quiet place, surrounded by the greenery and the sound of the birds can have huge benefits.

emotion heart field g3 b2 1

The Science Behind the Benefits of Basking in Nature

Walking in nature can boost your mood, strengthen your immune system, reduce stress and anxiety, inspire creative thinking, be fun and educational, improve observational skills and cognitive function, weight loss and help you sleep better, and altogether add quality years to your life.

In 2019, the scientific team composed of Chorong Song, Harumi Ikei, Takahide Kagawa, and Yoshifumi Miyazaki published a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showing the various positive effects that walking in a forest has on young women. 

A total of 60 participants were enrolled with an average age of 21 years, divided into six forest areas and six city areas in Japan, the test and the control groups, respectively. They were instructed to walk in these areas for 15 minutes, during which their heart rate variability, heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse rate were measured to quantify their physiological responses to walking in their designated areas. The researchers also used the modified semantic differential method, the Profile of Mood States (POMS), and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) tests to determine their psychological responses during their walks.

The participants were taken individually to their test and control sites, where their baseline physical vitals, such as blood pressure and pulse rate were measured. Each participant then walked along a given course in the experimental area for approximately 15 minutes at their normal walking pace. The walking course in each area was approximately 1 km, and the distances between the forest and city areas were similar. Each participant had their heart rate variance constantly monitored. After completing the walk, the participant rested for five minutes and their blood pressure and pulse rate were again measured, being then subjected to their psychological evaluation.

heartis tree rings bag1 H2 1

Measuring the Effectiveness of Forest Bathing via Heart Rate Variability

The researchers used the high-frequency values of the participant’s heart rate variability as an indicator of their parasympathetic nervous activity, which is enhanced in relaxing situations while using the low-frequency values as an indicator of their sympathetic nervous activity, which increases in stressful situations. 

The participants of this study presented a significantly increased parasympathetic nervous activity, for forest walking than for city walking. On the contrary, during their forest walks, the participants presented a significant decrease in their sympathetic nervous activity, when compared with their city walks. In addition, their heart rate was significantly lower during forest walking than during city walking.

Significant differences between the forest and city experiments were also observed for all the psychological measures. The participants felt significantly more comfortable, relaxed, and natural when walking in forests than when walking in city areas. 

Overall, during their forest walks, the participants presented a lower total mood disturbance score, with significantly lower scores on the tension and anxiety, depression and dejection, anger and hostility, fatigue, and confusion aspects, while showing higher vigor scores.

Numerous previous studies have already demonstrated the same effects of forest environments in mitigating stress states and inducing physiological relaxation in young men. 

For these, time spent in a forest environment, such as walking through a forest and/or viewing the scenery, can reduce levels of the salivary stress hormone cortisol, and pulse rate, as well as increase their parasympathetic nervous activity while decreasing their sympathetic nervous activity.

Forest therapy trips have also been shown to increase natural killer cell activity and improve immunity, with these effects lasting for approximately one month.

photo transitions dead tree dt5 bag7

The ‘Right to Roam’ Holds Exponential Healing Capabilities

Several cultures know and value the importance of nature in our lives. In Japan, the term “shinrin-yoku” or “forest bathing” has well documented and proven beneficial effects on the general population. 

The accumulation of data has resulted in the concept of “forest therapy” referring to the evidence-based forest bathing to achieve a preventive medical effect by inducing physiological relaxation and immune system recovery. 

The freedom to roam, or “every man’s right,” is the general public’s right to access certain public or privately owned land, lakes, and rivers for recreation and exercise. The right is sometimes called the right of public access to the wilderness or the “right to roam.” In Scotland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland, the freedom to roam takes the form of general public rights which are sometimes codified in the country’s law.

Thank you for reading this article to the end and giving us so much of your precious attention.

And More Related Articles

The awesome folks behind this page

This magazine is a work of heart & art. We collaborate with people who feel it’s time for a more heartful world. Only with their dedication could we publish this article.

Bruno Rodrigues

Writer | Contributor

Benju Pan

Artist

Benju Pan grew up in Neverland and never left Neverland. You might see him around in your dreams and imagination. And you’ll feel his presence when you listen to your heart.

We'd love to see our illustrations in your articles and on your website. If you want to include our illustrations on your website, we ask you to put a proper attribution link below the artwork.

As you can imagine it takes a lot of time and love to create these beautiful little artworks - and that's why we ask you to do this.

In our art gallery you'll find all the illustrations that you can use with the appropriate attribution link back to the relevant page on our website.

It would be a wonderful support for our citizen science projects if you would embed them in your articles or website.

Our research projects page lists all available surveys with steps on how to use them.

In this case we'd also love to share with you. If you sign up as a mission partner [affiliate] we'll share the revenue from your referred visitors with you. Check out our partner offer for more details!

We are still in the production of our feature documentary and will let you know as soon as we are ready to release it. [festival run planed for spring 2023].

Thank you for your interest.

Share this

Hey, thanks for visiting us!

The Heart Revolution is an exploration & celebration of life and being human driven by the question “Why do we have a heart?”

Do you know the purpose of your heart?

If you think your heart is a pump you are in for a big surprise. A scientific and spiritual revolution is on it’s way.

Curious why your heart is at the center of every aspect of your life?