Physiological and Psychological Effects of a Forest Therapy Program on Middle-Aged Females.
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Dec ;12(12):15222-32. Epub 2015 Dec 1. PMID: 26633447
The natural environment is increasingly recognized as an effective counter to urban stress, and"Forest Therapy"has recently attracted attention as a relaxation and stress management activity with demonstrated clinical efficacy. The present study assessed the physiological and psychological effects of a forest therapy program on middle-aged females. Seventeen Japanese females (62.2± 9.4 years; mean ± standard deviation) participated in this experiment. Pulse rate, salivary cortisol level, and psychological indices were measured on the day before forest therapy and on the forest therapy day. Pulse rate and salivary cortisol were significantly lower than baseline following forest therapy, indicating that subjects were in a physiologically relaxed state. Subjects reported feeling significantly more"comfortable,""relaxed,"and"natural"according to the semantic differential (SD) method. The Profile of Mood State (POMS) negative mood subscale score for"tension-anxiety"was significantly lower, while that for"vigor"was significantly higher following forest therapy. Our study revealed that forest therapy elicited a significant (1) decrease in pulse rate, (2) decrease in salivary cortisol levels, (3) increase in positive feelings, and (4) decrease in negative feelings. In conclusion, there are substantial physiological and psychological benefits of forest therapy on middle-aged females.