Studies have indicated that natural environments have the potential to improve the relationship between a stressful life and psychological well-being and physical health. Forest therapy has recently received widespread attention as a novel solution for stress recovery and health promotion. Bamboo is an important forest type in many countries, especially in East and Southeast Asia and in African countries. Bamboo is widespread throughout southwestern China. Empirical field research on the physiological effects of bamboo forest therapy is currently lacking. To explore the benefits of bamboo forest therapy on the physiological responses of university students, 120 university volunteers between the ages of 19 and 24 participated in this study (60 males and 60 females) and were randomly divided into four groups of equal size (15 males and 15 females in each). Four sites were selected for the experiment, including two natural bamboo forests (YA and YB), a bamboo forest park (DJY), and an urban environment (CS). During the testing period, all participants were asked to view the landscape for 15 min in the morning and then walk in the testing area for 15 min in the afternoon. Blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), and peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) were measured as the physiological indexes, and the semantic differential method (SDM) questionnaire was completed for the environmental satisfaction evaluation. The SDM for the subjective environmental evaluation differed significantly among the university students; they obtained a better environmental experience, in terms of sensory perception, atmosphere, climate, place, and space, in the bamboo forest sites. The three-day bamboo forest therapy session improved the physiological well-being of university students. First, the blood pressure and heart rate of the university students decreased, and the SpO2 increased, after the three-day viewing and walking activities of the three-day bamboo forest therapy session. The viewing activities had a more pronounced effect on decreased heart rate in university students. Additionally, three-day bamboo forest therapy had a positive impact on decreased systolic blood pressure and heart rate in the university students, and it was significantly decreased in females, while peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) remained relatively low. Finally, compared with the urban site (CS), the bamboo forest sites effectively improved the university students’ physiological state of health, decreased their physical pressure, and stabilized their physiological indicators. These findings provide scientific evidence that a three-day bamboo forest therapy session can increase positive physiological responses. The potential for a longer-term effect on human physiological health requires further investigation.
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