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Study Shows ‘Forest Bathing’ Has Surprising Effects on Blood Pressure in Seniors

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Expert Gardener & Horticulturist in Training

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Home » Benefits of Trees » Study Shows ‘Forest Bathing’ Has Surprising Effects on Blood Pressure in Seniors

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, stands as a silent guardian at the gates of our health, affecting millions worldwide.

Among these, the elderly often bear the brunt of its long-term effects, navigating the delicate balance of health, medication, and lifestyle management.

Yet, nestled within the embrace of nature, a practice known as forest bathing or ‘shinrin-yoku’ emerges as a beacon of hope, offering a serene path to well-being and health.

The Science of Forest Bathing

Originating from Japan, forest bathing is the mindful immersion in the forest atmosphere.

It’s a therapeutic jaunt through the woods, where the mere act of being present amidst the greenery and tranquility can work wonders for the mind and body.

Unlike the rigorous demands of exercise, forest bathing encourages a gentle interaction with nature, allowing the forest’s soothing ambiance to envelop the senses.

Study Overview

In a groundbreaking study led by Gen-Xiang Mao and colleagues, the potential of forest bathing to mitigate hypertension in the elderly was explored with promising results.

The study transported participants, all elderly individuals grappling with hypertension, into two contrasting environments: the nurturing expanse of a broad-leaved evergreen forest and the bustling urban area of Hangzhou, China.

Over a week, the study observed significant health benefits among those who were immersed in the forest environment compared to their urban counterparts.

Key Findings

Participants who surrendered to the forest’s embrace showcased a remarkable reduction in blood pressure levels, a testament to the forest’s healing prowess.

Additionally, these individuals exhibited improved cardiovascular health indicators, painting a picture of overall enhanced well-being.

The forest dwellers also reported improved mood states, shedding the weight of stress and anxiety that often accompanies hypertension.

Contributing to these benefits was the superior air quality within the forest, a sharp contrast to the urban setting, highlighting the role of environmental factors in our health.

Forest Bathing Effect on Blood Pressure in Seniors

Implications for the Elderly

These findings illuminate a path for the elderly battling hypertension, suggesting that forest bathing could complement traditional treatments.

By integrating regular visits to nature’s sanctuaries, they might not only manage their blood pressure more effectively but also rediscover the joy and serenity that comes from being one with nature.

Additional studies have also revealed the immune-boosting power of forest-bathing, further highlighting the benefits of this practice.

Practical Tips for Forest Bathing

For those eager to explore forest bathing, consider these gentle suggestions:

  • Start Small: Even a quiet stroll in your local park can be a step towards experiencing nature’s calm.
  • Accessibility: For those with mobility concerns, seek out accessible trails and parks. Many natural reserves are equipped with paths that cater to varying mobility needs.
  • Safety First: Always ensure you’re well-prepared for your time in nature, with appropriate clothing, water, and, if possible, a companion.
  • Embrace Your Surroundings: If you reside in an urban area, create a peaceful green space at home with plants and nature sounds to mimic the forest’s healing environment.

Conclusion

The journey through the forest, as revealed by Mao’s study, is more than a mere walk among trees; it’s a journey towards health and tranquility.

As we age, embracing the natural remedies that surround us can be a key to maintaining our health and happiness.

This article hopes to inspire you to explore the forest’s serene paths as a companion in your health journey against hypertension.

Source:

Mao GX, Cao YB, Lan XG, He ZH, Chen ZM, Wang YZ, Hu XL, Lv YD, Wang GF, Yan J. Therapeutic effect of forest bathing on human hypertension in the elderly. J Cardiol. 2012 Dec;60(6):495-502. doi: 10.1016/j.jjcc.2012.08.003. Epub 2012 Sep 1. PMID: 22948092.

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Fern Berg - Founder

Expert Gardener & Horticulturist in Training

Fern has planted and currently cares for over 100 different native and exotic fruit, nut, and ornamental trees. She also cultivates an extensive vegetable garden, several flower gardens and cares for an ever-growing happy family of indoor plants. Fern has a special interest in biodynamic farming, food production and closed loop agriculture. Fern founded Tree Vitalize to help guide others with an interest in tree planting, identification and care.