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The Health Benefits of Protecting Public Park Land

Friday, June 08, 2018

Forest bathing in public parks and forests is wildly popular in Japan and becoming popular in this country. In the early 1990s, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries coined the term Shinrin-yoku, which translates roughly as "forest bathing," the practice of taking a leisurely walk in a public or private forest for health benefits.

In 2016, Japan was ranked first in the world in affordable first-class universal health,care, with the highest longevity in the world, linked to diet, education, daily lifestyle habits, genes, and government-sponsored forest bathing.  

A study published in the July 2016 Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the effects of forest bathing on cardiovascular and metabolic parameters on middle-aged males. The forest bathing program significantly reduced pulse rate and increased the score for vigor and decreased the scores for depression, fatigue, anxiety, and confusion. Urinary dopamine after forest bathing was significantly lower than that after urban-area walking, suggesting the relaxing effect of forest bathing.

A clinical study published in the March 2016 Biomedical and Environmental Sciences on elderly patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease found that the subjects who walked in the forest scored far better on flow cytometry, ELISA, profile of mood states, and inflammatory markers than the group who walked in the city.


A study published in 2015 in Annals of Rehabilitation found that neck pain subjects who walked in the woods for seven days, and also did stretching exercises, experienced significantly reduced pain versus those who walked in the woods only or those who walked in the city daily and also exercised.

A 2010 Japanese review in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine focused on the effects of forest bathing on human immune function. In Japan, forest bathing is regarded as natural and active aroma therapy. 

This review also found that study subjects who experienced a three-day / two-night trip to forest areas increased lymphocyte natural killer (NK) activity and lower concentrations of urinary adrenaline on forest bathing days. The increase in NK cells lasted for more than 30 days after the trip. In contrast, a trip to visit a large city did not increase NK activity, the number of NK cells, or the level of other invader-protecting intracellular leukocyte granulysis and granzymes A/B expressing cells like time in the forest.

Ellen Troyer with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff




Given the ever rising cost of allopathic health care and the uncertainty of future affordable health care of any kind, it’s imperative that we now, more than ever, try to assume more responsibility for our health by possibly going on weekend camping trips a few times a year, never smoking, drinking in moderation, taking weekly forest baths, exercising a few hours  a week, and developing or staying passionate about ideas, science, art, music, and humanities.  

And, passionately supporting continued government commitment to maintenance of clean air and water supplies, as well as both national and state parks, given their proven contribution to healthy people and obvious reduction in overall government-supported health care costs.  

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