Nature is not only relaxing for you mind, body and soul. Researchers have confirmed that spending time in nature is responsible for many measurable beneficial changes in the body.
Did you for example know that short strolls in the forest can lower blood pressure?
Recent studies have also linked nature to symptom relief for health issues like heart disease, depression, cancer, anxiety and attention disorders.Many ancient civilization and some modern people have been aware of the healing power of nature, but it’s first now that nature’s incredible benefits for living beings have been recognized by science.
During the 1980s, the Japanese developed Shinrin-yoku, which translates to “forest bathing.” It’s a forest therapy that supports healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments.Among many things, Shinrin-yoku was believed to lower stress, but at the time there was no scientific evidence that could confirm this theory.
Yoshifumi Miyazaki, a forest-therapy expert and researcher at Chiba University in Japan discovered that people who spent 40 minutes walking in a cedar forest had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is involved in blood pressure and immune-system function, compared with when they spent 40 minutes walking in a lab.
“I was surprised,” Miyazaki recalls. “Spending time in the forest induces a state of physiologic relaxation.”Experience shows that the scents of trees, the sounds of brooks and the feel of sunshine through forest leaves can have a calming effect, and the conventional wisdom is right, said Yoshifumi Miyazaki.
More About HealthOne study he conducted on 260 people at 24 sites in 2005 and 2006 found that the average concentration of salivary cortisol, a stress hormone, in people who gazed on forest scenery for 20 minutes was 13.4 percent lower than that of people in urban settings, Miyazaki said.This means that forests can lower stress and make people feel at ease, he said, noting that findings in other physiological experiments, including fluctuations in heart beats and blood pressure, support this conclusion.“Humans had lived in nature for 5 million years. We were made to fit a natural environment. So we feel stress in an urban area,” Miyazaki said. “When we are exposed to nature, our bodies go back to how they should be.”
Dr. Qing Li, a professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, found that trees and plants emit aromatic compounds called phytoncides that, when inhaled, can spur healthy biological changes in a manner similar to aromatherapy, which has also been studied for its therapeutic benefits. Li conducted experiments to see whether spending time in a forest increases the activity of people’s natural killer (NK) cells, a component of the immune system that fights cancer.
In one, 12 men took a two-night trip to a forest in Nagano Prefecture in 2006, during which they went on three leisurely strolls and stayed in a hotel in the woods. Thirteen female nurses made a similar trip to another forest in the prefecture in 2007.NK activity was boosted in the subjects in both groups, and the increase was observed as long as 30 days later, Li said.“When NK activity increases, immune strength is enhanced, which boosts resistance against stress,” Li said, adding that forest therapy for immune-compromised patients may be developed within a few years.
Nature therapy is a privilege. Respect nature and you will be rewarded with good health.