Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 834360, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/834360
Research Article

Influence of Forest Therapy on Cardiovascular Relaxation in Young Adults

1Korea Forest Service, Government Complex 1, 189 Cheongsa-ro, Daejeon 302-701, Republic of Korea
2Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, 1 Matsunosato, Tsukuba 305-8687, Japan
3College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Chungnam National University, 99 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-764, Republic of Korea
4Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Nippon Medical School, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8602, Japan
5Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, 6-2-1 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-0882, Japan
6Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA), P.O. Box 18 (Jokiniemenkuja 1), 01301 Vantaa, Finland

Received 1 September 2013; Accepted 9 December 2013; Published 10 February 2014

Academic Editor: Vernon A. Barnes

Copyright © 2014 Juyoung Lee et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background. Despite increasing attention toward forest therapy as an alternative medicine, very little evidence continues to be available on its therapeutic effects. Therefore, this study was focused on elucidating the health benefits of forest walking on cardiovascular reactivity. Methods. Within-group comparisons were used to examine the cardiovascular responses to walking in forest and urban environments. Forty-eight young adult males participated in the two-day field research. Changes in heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure were measured to understand cardiovascular reactivity. Four different questionnaires were used to investigate the changes in psychological states after walking activities. Results. Forest walking significantly increased the values of ln(HF) and significantly decreased the values of ln(LF/HF) compared with the urban walking. Heart rate during forest walking was significantly lower than that in the control. Questionnaire results showed that negative mood states and anxiety levels decreased significantly by forest walking compared with urban walking. Conclusion. Walking in the forest environment may promote cardiovascular relaxation by facilitating the parasympathetic nervous system and by suppressing the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, forest therapy may be effective for reducing negative psychological symptoms.