Physiological and psychological effects of forest therapy on middle-aged males with high-normal blood pressure

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Feb 25;12(3):2532-42. doi: 10.3390/ijerph120302532.


Time spent walking and relaxing in a forest environment ("forest bathing" or "forest therapy") has well demonstrated anti-stress effects in healthy adults, but benefits for ill or at-risk populations have not been reported. The present study assessed the physiological and psychological effects of forest therapy (relaxation and stress management activity in the forest) on middle-aged males with high-normal blood pressure. Blood pressure and several physiological and psychological indices of stress were measured the day before and approximately 2 h following forest therapy. Both pre- and post-treatment measures were conducted at the same time of day to avoid circadian influences. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP), urinary adrenaline, and serum cortisol were all significantly lower than baseline following forest therapy (p<0.05). Subjects reported feeling significantly more "relaxed" and "natural" according to the Semantic Differential (SD) method. Profile of Mood State (POMS) negative mood subscale scores for "tension-anxiety," "confusion," and "anger-hostility," as well as the Total Mood Disturbance (TMD) score were significantly lower following forest therapy. These results highlight that forest is a promising treatment strategy to reduce blood pressure into the optimal range and possibly prevent progression to clinical hypertension in middle-aged males with high-normal blood pressure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Forests*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / prevention & control*
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Relaxation
  • Relaxation Therapy* / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology