We all instinctively know that being in the woods is good for us. But is there actually any science to back it up I hear you ask? Well yes! Good news, a load of clever clogs have proved that being out in the forest is truly, and scientifically, good for us. So hurry – tell your teachers, tell your boss, tell your friends – and get outside in those trees.
1. Being in the woods will lower cortisol, and lower your pulse rate and blood pressure. This was proved by some brilliant scientists in Japan in 2010 who did an experiment with 280 people. They got half of them walking through the woods and the other lot walking through the city. Then they measured a whole heap of stuff and cross -checked by getting the groups to swap over on the second day. Amazingly, they actually found that simply walking through the woods really did improve overall physical health.
(Park, Tsunetsugu, Kasetani, Kagawa, Miyasaki, (2010) The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku: evidence from field experiements in 24 forests across Japan, Environ Health Prev Med 15(1): 18-26)
2. Being in the woods can actually increase your white blood cell count, and the effects last! Another brilliant study, this time from Tokyo, found that 7 days after being in the woods the female participants in particular had an increase of anti-cancer proteins in their blood. Now that really is amazing.
(Li Q, Morimoto et al., (2008) J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. A forest bathing trip increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins in female subjects.,22(1):45-55.
3. Being in the woods is good for all ages as proven by some scientists from our very own UK. A study from UEA (The University of East Anglia) last year has found that just exposing yourself and your family to greenspaces can reduce the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. So something for everyone there – mums, dads, kids and grannies, we all need to be spending more time outside.
(Twohig-Bennett, Jones, (2018) The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes, Environ Res. 166:628-637)
Date: 29 November 2019
Author: Annie Milverton, Adult Provision Manager