"Forest therapy" found to lower workers' blood pressure

The latest evidence supporting the therapeutic benefits of woodland activity shows sustained reduction in blood pressure, including in those suffering from high blood pressure.

Image: cylonfingers (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Image: cylonfingers (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Researchers from separate health and forestry institutes in Japan took 26 office workers on a one-day forest therapy programme in the rural area of Chizu, a centre for forestry which has also become a popular site for the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or "forest bathing".

Participants' blood pressure and pulse rate were measured threes days before, during, and three and five days after the programme.

"Systolic and diastolic blood pressure significantly decreased during the forest therapy program relative to the value from 3 days before the program, and this decrease was maintained 3 and 5 days after the forest therapy program," the researchers found - but there were no significant differences in pulse rate.

The study is published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

An earlier Japanese study found that forest bathing also decreases blood glucose levels in diabetic patients.

The practice began in Japan in the 1980s and is now regularly used to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

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