A Walk in the Woods Can Improve Your Health
My son and I went up to Redwood Park in Oakland yesterday to blow off some steam. The last week has been so stressful for everyone and we were feeling the need to escape. The effect was immediate. Our worries seemed to peel away as we listened to the sounds of the birds, smelled the dirt and bark, and were awed by the sheer size of the redwoods. We all know that being in nature feels good, but now there is empirical evidence that these experiences are beneficial, both mentally and physically.
Spending time in the forest improves mood, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress.
Studies show that both sitting in the forest and exercising in the forest reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline as well as reduces blood pressure. Using the Profile of Mood States test, researchers found that simply taking a walk in the woods significantly decreased the scores for depression, confusion, anxiety, anger, and fatigue. And stress hormones significantly affect the immune system, so reducing these reduces the total load on your immune system.
A walk in the woods can boost your immune system and potentially more.
Fresh air is filled with phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities which help plants fight disease. When we breathe in these plant chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cells that kill tumor and virus-infected cells in our bodies. A Japanese study found that after hiking twice a day for three days, participants' white blood cells had increased by 40%. White blood cells remained 15% higher a month later. Japanese researchers are currently exploring whether exposure to forests can help prevent certain kinds of cancer.
Even a view of nature can help recover time.
One well-known study, by Richard Ulrich, found that patients recovering from surgery in rooms with a window facing a natural setting had shorter postoperative stays, took less pain medicine, and had slightly fewer post-surgical complications compared to those who had a view of a cement wall.
Still stressed? Chiropractic can help.
If you're still feeling pain and stress after your walk in the woods, come on in and get an adjustment. You've been through enough this past week. Treat yourself by calling us at (510) 922-1579 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
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University of Washington. Urban Forestry and Human Benefits. http://www.naturewithin.info/urban.html.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Landscape and Human Health Laboratory, http://lhhl.illinois.edu/adhd.htm.
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