Take a Walk on the Wild Side

A-02 Forests and Human Health: The Role of Research Towards Evidence-Based Practice

 

Take a walk in the forest, it could add years to your life. It might even save it.

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Dr. Takahide Kagawa from Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute of Japan is showing through his work that forest therapy strengthens our immunity system and does wonders to battle diseases such as depression. This is extraordinarily important given that in Japan alone, upwards of 30,000 people committed suicide due to this serious illness.

Takahide presented his findings in the ongoing IUFRO 2014 World Congress today in Salt Lake City. Takahide’s work has been carried out in 35 forest therapy centers throughout Japan.

Takahide’s studies show that simply taking a walk in a park, urban forest, or wilderness area actually reduces systolic blood pressure by about 1.4%. That same walk can also result in a 12.4% reduction in salivary cortisol concentration (stress hormones).

Forest therapy practices are also taking root in other countries.

Dr. Liisa Tyrvainen has reported similar benefits of stress relief due to forest therapy practices in the urban nature environments in Finland.

The practice of forest therapy is also increasing significantly in the Korea Republic. Dr. Jeonghee Lee research has discovered that between 2010 and 2013 the total number of people who visited the forest for therapy purposes increased by an astonishing 11 times over the number of people who visited those forests simply for recreation purposes.

So next time you are feeling stressed, get out and take a walk in the forest. It could save your life.

The next time you feel stressed out, forest therapy might just be the miracle you need.

Written by: Chidiebere Ofoegbu

 

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