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Open AccessCommunication
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(12), 15222-15232; doi:10.3390/ijerph121214984

Physiological and Psychological Effects of a Forest Therapy Program on Middle-Aged Females

1
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, National Hospital Organization, Tokyo Medical Center, Tokyo 152-8902, Japan
2
Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, Chiba 277-0882, Japan
3
Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Ibaraki 305-8687, Japan
4
Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo 113-8602, Japan
5
Agematsu Town Office Industry & Tourism Department, Nagano 399-5601, Japan
6
Nagano Prefectural Kiso Hospital, Nagano 397-8555, Japan
7
Le Verseau Inc., Tokyo 156-0051, Japan
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 18 September 2015 / Revised: 20 November 2015 / Accepted: 25 November 2015 / Published: 1 December 2015
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Abstract

The natural environment is increasingly recognized as an effective counter to urban stress, and “Forest Therapy” has recently attracted attention as a relaxation and stress management activity with demonstrated clinical efficacy. The present study assessed the physiological and psychological effects of a forest therapy program on middle-aged females. Seventeen Japanese females (62.2 ± 9.4 years; mean ± standard deviation) participated in this experiment. Pulse rate, salivary cortisol level, and psychological indices were measured on the day before forest therapy and on the forest therapy day. Pulse rate and salivary cortisol were significantly lower than baseline following forest therapy, indicating that subjects were in a physiologically relaxed state. Subjects reported feeling significantly more “comfortable,” “relaxed,” and “natural” according to the semantic differential (SD) method. The Profile of Mood State (POMS) negative mood subscale score for “tension–anxiety” was significantly lower, while that for “vigor” was significantly higher following forest therapy. Our study revealed that forest therapy elicited a significant (1) decrease in pulse rate, (2) decrease in salivary cortisol levels, (3) increase in positive feelings, and (4) decrease in negative feelings. In conclusion, there are substantial physiological and psychological benefits of forest therapy on middle-aged females. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest therapy program; middle-aged females; pulse rate; salivary cortisol; semantic differential method; Profile of Mood State forest therapy program; middle-aged females; pulse rate; salivary cortisol; semantic differential method; Profile of Mood State
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ochiai, H.; Ikei, H.; Song, C.; Kobayashi, M.; Miura, T.; Kagawa, T.; Li, Q.; Kumeda, S.; Imai, M.; Miyazaki, Y. Physiological and Psychological Effects of a Forest Therapy Program on Middle-Aged Females. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 15222-15232.

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