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Sustainable Nature Therapy: Accumulation of Physiological Data on the Wellbeing Effect of Nature

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Health, Well-Being and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2021) | Viewed by 15812

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, 6-2-1 Kashiwa-no-ha, Kashiwa City 277-0882, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Interests: sustainable nature therapy; physiological anthropology; relaxation; preventive medical effects; empirical evidence; physiological data
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Guest Editor
Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, 6-2-1 Kashiwa-no-ha, Kashiwa City 277-0882, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Interests: Nature Therapy; Physiological Anthropology; Relaxation; Physiological Data; Habitability; Wooden Material; Flower; Foliage Plant
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Forest Resources, Kongju National University, Chungnam, Korea
Interests: forest; nature therapy; health promotion; physiological evaluation; individual difference
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Guest Editor
Gakuendai 1-1, Kahoku-city, Ishikawa 929-1212, Japan
Interests: Physiological Anthropology; Nature Therapy; Individual Variation; Heart Rate Variability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues:

Humans have existed on planet Earth for 6–7 million years. Urbanization is a recent development that emerged over the past 200–300 years, largely in response to the Industrial Revolution. As such, humans have spent >99.99% of their natural history living in synchrony with the natural environment. Our bodies have adapted to the natural environment; however, we currently live in a highly artificial environment. Stress is a natural response to this sudden change in the environment. Moreover, the development of information technologies, which started decades ago, has created a second level of artificialization of our environment. Considering the prevalence of these external stressors, increasing interest has developed in topics related to the benefits of exposure to the natural environment. Data have been collected on this topic, typically under the general rubric of nature therapy, although at this time, the findings have primarily been limited to simple observations detailing the impact of nature on humans.

Future research on nature therapy will introduce a new concept that we have called “Sustainable Nature Therapy,” i.e., nature therapy with environmental, cultural, social, and economic sustainability. We have already proposed the benefits of nature therapy with respect to disease prevention and reductions in medical costs. However, we also need to respond to the global critical changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to propose the concept of “Sustainable Nature Therapy” and accumulate physiological data on the effect of nature on well-being. Our aim is to develop a strong rationale and scientific basis for performing sustainable nature therapy both now and in the future.

Dr. Yoshifumi Miyazaki
Dr. Harumi Ikei
Dr. Chorong Song
Prof. Dr. Hiromitsu Kobayashi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Nature Therapy
  • Nature, Urbanization
  • Stress
  • Wellbeing
  • Preventive Medical Effects
  • Reduction of Medical Costs
  • Empirical Evidence
  • Physiological Data

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 4283 KiB  
Article
Physiological Effects of Visual Stimulation Using Knotty and Clear Wood Images among Young Women
by Harumi Ikei, Masashi Nakamura and Yoshifumi Miyazaki
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9898; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239898 - 26 Nov 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3223
Abstract
Wood is a sustainable and natural material used in interior design for living environment. Knots are prominent features on wood surfaces, and they affect a user’s building preference and impression. Data on the effects of wood knots on human physiological responses are limited. [...] Read more.
Wood is a sustainable and natural material used in interior design for living environment. Knots are prominent features on wood surfaces, and they affect a user’s building preference and impression. Data on the effects of wood knots on human physiological responses are limited. Hence, further studies should be conducted. This study examined the effects of interior wall images comprising knotty or clear wood on physiological responses. Computer graphics were used to prepare wall images of knotty or clear lumber. A gray image was set as the control. In total, 28 adult Japanese female university students were included in this study. They observed two types of wood interior wall images for 90 s. The control was also set for 90 s. The oxyhemoglobin level in the prefrontal cortex measured by near-infrared time-resolved spectroscopy (TRS) and the activities of parasympathetic and sympathetic nerves assessed using the heart rate variability (HRV) were utilized as physiological indexes. TRS sensors, which emit and receive near-infrared light, were attached to frontal pole (Fp) 1 and Fp2, based on the international 10–20 method. R-R interval was measured using HRV sensors attached based on the three-point guidance method, and frequency data were analyzed to assess high frequency (HF), which reflects parasympathetic nervous system activity, and the ratio of high and low frequencies (LF/HF), which reflects sympathetic nervous system activity. The knotty wood sedated the right prefrontal cortex activity compared with the control and enhanced parasympathetic nerve activity compared with before stimulation. Clear wood sedated the left prefrontal cortex activity compared with the control and suppressed sympathetic nerve activity compared with before stimulation. Subjective evaluations revealed that compared with gray wall images, both knotty and clear wood images significantly promoted comfort, relaxation, and natural feeling and improved overall mood states. In addition, clear wood image had a more positive subjective effect than knotty image. Wall images comprising knotty or clear wood, when used as a visual stimulus, have a physiological relaxation effect among adult women in their 20s. Full article
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10 pages, 2606 KiB  
Article
Effect of Viewing Real Forest Landscapes on Brain Activity
by Chorong Song, Harumi Ikei, Takahide Kagawa and Yoshifumi Miyazaki
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6601; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166601 - 14 Aug 2020
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 3676
Abstract
Benefits related to health promotion by getting closer to forests have received increasing attention in modern stressful society; however, evidence-based research about how our brain activity changes when we stay in a forest environment is limited. Thus, the goal of this study was [...] Read more.
Benefits related to health promotion by getting closer to forests have received increasing attention in modern stressful society; however, evidence-based research about how our brain activity changes when we stay in a forest environment is limited. Thus, the goal of this study was to evaluate the influence of viewing real forest landscapes on the activity in the prefrontal cortex area of young women’s brains. The experiment included 29 women (age: 21.0 ± 1.4 years) and was executed in five forest and five urban areas. The participants stayed in the forest and urban areas and viewed each view for 15 min. While viewing scenery, they had the oxyhemoglobin (oxy-Hb) concentrations in the left and right areas of their prefrontal cortexes measured continuously. Viewing real forest landscapes was associated with a significantly lower oxy-Hb concentration in the right area of the prefrontal cortex than when seeing urban areas. In conclusion, viewing real forest landscapes substantially diminished oxy-Hb concentrations in the right area of the prefrontal cortex, which is linked to physiological relaxation. Full article
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9 pages, 1311 KiB  
Brief Report
Relaxing Effect Induced by Forest Sound in Patients with Gambling Disorder
by Hiroko Ochiai, Chorong Song, Hyunju Jo, Masayuki Oishi, Michiko Imai and Yoshifumi Miyazaki
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 5969; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155969 - 24 Jul 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3685
Abstract
The number of people addicted to gambling has increased worldwide. They often suffer from debilitating medical conditions associated with stress or depression. This study examined the physiological and psychological reactions of gambling disorder (GD) patients while listening to high-definition forest or city sounds [...] Read more.
The number of people addicted to gambling has increased worldwide. They often suffer from debilitating medical conditions associated with stress or depression. This study examined the physiological and psychological reactions of gambling disorder (GD) patients while listening to high-definition forest or city sounds using headphones. In total, 12 Japanese male GD patients were exposed to high-definition forest or city sound waves for 1 min via headphones. Near-infrared spectroscopy of the prefrontal cortex was used to examine oxyhemoglobin (oxy-Hb) concentrations. Heart rate and heart rate variability are indicators of autonomic nervous function. We performed subjective evaluation via the modified version of the semantic differential (SD) method with the profiles of the mood states (POMS). Experiencing forest sounds led to substantial differences as opposed to listening to city sounds: (1) oxy-Hb levels of the bilateral prefrontal cortices were lower (2) the modified SD method resulted in increased comfortable and relaxed feelings, (3) the negative POMS subscale scores were significantly lower, indicating that negative emotions diminished markedly when patients listened to forest sounds. This is the first study to show that sounds of forest relaxed individuals physiologically and psychologically to minimize GD. Full article
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11 pages, 281 KiB  
Opinion
The Possibility of Sustainable Urban Horticulture Based on Nature Therapy
by Na Lu, Chorong Song, Takanori Kuronuma, Harumi Ikei, Yoshifumi Miyazaki and Michiko Takagaki
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5058; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125058 - 21 Jun 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 4167
Abstract
Population growth and increased stress caused by urbanization have led to social problems that are predicted to intensify in the future. In these conditions, the recently established ”nature therapy” has revealed that an environment rich in various plant life significantly contributes to the [...] Read more.
Population growth and increased stress caused by urbanization have led to social problems that are predicted to intensify in the future. In these conditions, the recently established ”nature therapy” has revealed that an environment rich in various plant life significantly contributes to the relief of physical and mental stress. Meanwhile, from the perspective of reduction in the energy required for transportation and the retention of plant freshness, urban horticulture, in which plant life exists harmoniously with the city, has attracted considerable attention. Interactions between humans and plants in urban horticulture are considered to contribute to the good health and wellbeing of people. Therefore, we incorporate human-centered thinking based on nature therapy into horticultural produce-centered thinking based on conventional urban horticulture. By introducing a pioneering urban horticulture plant factory as an example, we propose the possibility of sustainable urban horticulture based on nature therapy. Full article
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