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Restorative effects of viewing real forest landscapes, based on a comparison with urban landscapes

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Growing attention has been paid to the health-enhancing or therapeutic effects of natural environments, such as forests, and the requirement for an evidence-based approach has been pressing. However, there is a lack of evidence-based research in this field. In this study, the restorative effects of viewing real forest landscapes were examined through field experiments by comparing the effects of urban landscapes. Twelve Japanese male subjects in their twenties participated in a 3 day field experiment. The subjects were instructed to visit forest and urban environments randomly and to view each real landscape. Physiological and psychological data on each subject were collected four times a day. Significant differences between the responses of the subjects in forest compared with those in the urban environment were found. Forest environments had significantly lower values than urban environments after viewing in (1) salivary cortisol concentration (an index of stress response), (2) diastolic blood pressure, and (3) pulse rate. Further, subjects felt more comfortable, soothed and refreshed when viewing a forest landscape than an urban one. These findings support the idea that real forest landscapes may ameliorate stress, aid autonomic nervous system relaxation and increase positive emotion, and provide important scientific evidence of forest-guided health benefits.
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Keywords: Blood pressure; field experiment; forest landscape; health benefits; pulse rate; salivary cortisol concentration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, Kashiwa, Japan 2: Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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