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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(2), 1874-1893; doi:10.3390/ijerph120201874

Acute Effects of Exposure to a Traditional Rural Environment on Urban Dwellers: A Crossover Field Study in Terraced Farmland

1
Korea Forest Service, Government Complex 1, 189 Cheongsa-Ro, Seo-Gu, Daejeon 302-701, Korea
2
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Chungnam National University, 99 Daehak-Ro, Yuseong-Gu, Daejeon 305-764, Korea
3
Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, 1 Matsunosato, Tsukuba 305-8687, Japan
4
Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, 6-2-1 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-0882, Japan
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 25 December 2014 / Revised: 4 January 2015 / Accepted: 30 January 2015 / Published: 5 February 2015
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Abstract

Despite an increasing attention and public preference for rural amenities, little evidence is available on the health benefits of a rural environment. In this study, we identified physiological and psychological benefits of exposure to a rural environment using multiparametric methods. Twelve young male adults participated in a 3-day field experiment (mean ± standard deviation age, 22.3 ± 1.3 years). Sleeping environment, diet program, physical activities, and other factors possibly affecting physiological responses were controlled during experiment period. For all participants, salivary cortisol concentration, heart rate variability, and blood pressure were measured at rural and urban field sites. Self-evaluation questionnaires were administered to analyze the psychological states in two different environments. Volatile compounds in the air were also analyzed to investigate air quality. The data were compared between rural and urban environments. The data showed that exposure to a rural environment reduced stress hormone secretion and sympathetic nervous activity and increased parasympathetic nervous activity. Short-term exposure to a rural environment also improved mood states. Our findings indicate that exposure to a rural environment effectively reduced physiological stress and enhanced psychological well-being. View Full-Text
Keywords: terraced paddy field; physiological and psychological response; stress reduction; health benefit of rural environment terraced paddy field; physiological and psychological response; stress reduction; health benefit of rural environment
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

Lee, J.; Park, B.-J.; Ohira, T.; Kagawa, T.; Miyazaki, Y. Acute Effects of Exposure to a Traditional Rural Environment on Urban Dwellers: A Crossover Field Study in Terraced Farmland. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 1874-1893.

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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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