Updated: Feb 15, 2019
Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing was pioneered in Japan in the 1980s as a public health measure to promote health and wellness and to promote nature as a powerful healing resource (Hansen, Jones, & Tocchini, 2017). Numerous studies examining Shinrin-yoku found changes in the central nervous system (CNS) that promoted an increase in the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) tone. The cardiac biomarkers of hypertension and cardiovascular triggers that promote activation of the renin-angiotensin system were decreased after a week-long trip in nature. The overall effect was a decrease in cardiac workload, which improved overall cardiac function (Hansen, Jones, & Tocchini, 2017). The authors also reported research on heart rate variability (HRV) showing high-frequency (HF) levels increasing within the initial five to seven minutes of participants’ experience in a nature setting as well as an increase in HRV. High-frequency measurements represent PNS activation and increases in HRV represent the body’s increased physiological ability to tolerate stress (Moore, 2017).
Moore, J., Chaudhary, N., & Akinyemiju, T. (2017, March 16). Metabolic Syndrome Prevalence by Race/Ethnicity and Sex in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–2012. Preventing Chronic Disease, 14. http://dx.doi.org/ http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd14.160287