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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 897; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080897

Effects of Short Forest Bathing Program on Autonomic Nervous System Activity and Mood States in Middle-Aged and Elderly Individuals

1
School of Forestry and Resource Conservation, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
2
Graduate Institute of Oncology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
3
Department of Tourism and Leisure Management, Yuanpei University of Medical Technology, Hsinchu 30015, Taiwan
Both authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 June 2017 / Revised: 1 August 2017 / Accepted: 4 August 2017 / Published: 9 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Nature Therapy: Advances in Physiological Evaluation)
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Abstract

The present study investigated changes in autonomic nervous system activity and emotions after a short (2 h) forest bathing program in the Xitou Nature Education Area (XNEA), Taiwan. One hundred and twenty-eight (60.0 ± 7.44 years) middle-aged and elderly participants were recruited. Physiological responses, pulse rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate variability (HRV), and psychological indices were measured before and after the program. We observed that pulse rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure were significantly lower after the program, which indicated physiological benefits from stress recovery. The Profile of Mood States negative mood subscale scores of “tension-anxiety”, “anger-hostility”, “fatigue-inertia”, “depression-dejection”, and “confusion-bewilderment” were significantly lower, whereas the positive mood subscale score of “vigor-activity” was higher. Furthermore, participants exhibited significantly lower anxiety levels according to the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. However, changes in sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve activity were nonsignificant. Our study determined that the short forest bathing program is a promising therapeutic method for enhancing heart rate and blood pressure functions as well as an effective psychological relaxation strategy for middle-aged and elderly individuals. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest bathing; pulse rate; blood pressure; heart rate variability; Profile of Mood States; State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; middle-aged and elderly forest bathing; pulse rate; blood pressure; heart rate variability; Profile of Mood States; State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; middle-aged and elderly
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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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Yu, C.-P.; Lin, C.-M.; Tsai, M.-J.; Tsai, Y.-C.; Chen, C.-Y. Effects of Short Forest Bathing Program on Autonomic Nervous System Activity and Mood States in Middle-Aged and Elderly Individuals. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 897.

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