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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 671094, 7 pages
Research Article

Analysis of Individual Variations in Autonomic Responses to Urban and Forest Environments

1Ishikawa Prefectural Nursing University, 1-1 Gakuendai, Kahoku, Ishikawa 929-1210, Japan
2Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, 6-2-1 Kashiwa-no-ha, Kashiwa-shi, Chiba 277-0882, Japan
3Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, 1 Matsunosato, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8687, Japan

Received 29 July 2015; Accepted 20 September 2015

Academic Editor: Giuseppe Caminiti

Copyright © 2015 Hiromitsu Kobayashi 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.


Autonomic responses to urban and forest environments were studied in 625 young male subjects. The experimental sites were 57 forests and 57 urban areas across Japan. The subjects viewed the landscape (forest or urban environment) for a period of 15 min while sitting on a chair. During this period, heart rate variability (HRV) was monitored continuously. The results were presented as histograms and analyzed with special reference to individual variations. Approximately 80% of the subjects showed an increase in the parasympathetic indicator of HRV (lnHF), whereas the remaining subjects showed a decrease in the parasympathetic activity. Similarly, 64.0% of the subjects exhibited decreases in the sympathetic indicator of HRV (ln[LF/HF]), whereas the remaining subjects showed opposite responses. Analysis of the distribution of HRV indices (lnHF and ln[LF/HF]) demonstrated the effect of forest environments on autonomic activity more specifically than the conventional analysis based on the difference in mean values.