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Reconnect with nature to reduce stress and blood pressure

Background

“Forest bathing” is the practice of mindfully spending time in nature. It has a variety of positive effects, including reduced stress, potentially improved immunity, and possibly reduced risk of cancer. Given the relationship between stress and hypertension, this review analyzed the literature to investigate the effects of forest bathing on hypertension.

The study

This review found 14 studies related to forest bathing and hypertension that measured outcomes such as blood pressure, heart rate, and blood markers of cardiovascular health. Four studies were randomized controlled trials, one was a non-randomized controlled trial, three were crossover trials, five were quasi-experimental studies, and one was a quasi-experimental comparative study.

The results

This review found that forest bathing effectively reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and physiological and psychological stress, as well as improved blood markers of cardiovascular health and metabolism. Forest walking and forest therapy programs were found to be the most effective interventions.

Note

Given the increasing urbanicity of our world, this study emphasizes the importance of remaining connected with the natural world. More research on the “nature” of forest bathing would be useful, to determine if it could be performed effectively in urban parks and gardens.

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