The rustle of leaves, the budding Green, and the scent of fir needles In the spring it attracts many people in the forest. A short walk there, Stress can reduce significantly, as a study by the US-American University of Michigan shows. Thus, 20 minutes are sufficient in the countryside, in order to reduce the Level of stress hormones significantly. The researchers describe in the journal “Frontiers in Psychology” from a “nature pill”.
“We already know that it reduces Stress, if you spend time in nature,” says Ecologist and lead author of the study, Mary Carol Hunter. “So far, but it was unclear how long and how often you go in to the nature should be and also what kind of experience of nature of use to us.”
A minimum of ten minutes in the Green
The current study has now shown that 20 to 30 minutes are sufficient in an environment that conveys a sense of nature, in order to reduce effectively the cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol, also called stress hormone, is produced in the adrenal cortex and the liver removed. Persistently elevated cortisol values, for example by chronic Stress, can lead to Obesity, weaken the immune system and cardiovascular disorders, depression, and a number of other diseases encourage.
The scientists from the University of Michigan, had prescribed a group of 36 volunteers, including 33 women and three men, a regular “nature pill”: The subjects should be at least three walks per week in the nature with a duration of ten minutes or more. Before and after the experiments, the participants took a saliva sample, which was studied both on the cortisol values, as well as the so-called Alpha-Amylase. This enzyme originates from the digestive tract and is known to mediate the body’s reaction under Stress is increased.
Because the biomarkers of physiological change is logical with the time of day were taken into account, these daily fluctuations in the calculation. The subjects were allowed to also 30 minutes before taking the saliva sample, do not eat or drink, since food can affect, in particular, the Alpha-Amylase.
The volunteers were able to determine the day, duration and location of their experience of Nature itself, so that it is fit to your individual lifestyle. They had to, however, minimize some of the stress factors: “you should take the “natural pill” in the light of day, no physical exercise and Social Media, the Internet, phone calls, conversations, and reading avoid,” says Hunter.
Walks in the woods as a therapy
After 20 minutes of nature in the cortisol level was lowered in the test subjects. The most the stress hormone was reduced when the participants spent about 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in the countryside. The participants stayed even longer in the Free, the Cortisol still, however, not as strong as in the first 20 minutes. In the case of the Alpha-Amylase, the difference was only in the case of those subjects clearly measurable, which moved during the time Outdoors, for example on a bench.
The researchers now hope that their experiment proves the effectiveness of the “natural pill”. You can see the Outdoors as a cost-effective therapeutic agent to the heart of the negative effects of city life, such as a lot of time indoors and in front of screens, to curb. “Doctors could use our results as an evidence-based rule of thumb for what must be included in the prescription of a “natural pill,”” sums up Hunter.
More trees, fewer heart attacks?
The data in rows in a growing number of studies showing the positive effects of a stay in nature or specifically a walk in the Woods. The Swedish researcher Roger Ulrich found in 1984 that may be alone, the sight of trees, the positive could affect: patients looked after surgery from the hospital window on the Green, required fewer painkillers and genasen faster.
A Japanese study showed that regular and extensive forest, the number of natural killer cells increased walks, a sub-group of white blood cells and part of the human immune system.
In 2015, the U.S. environmental psychologist Marc Berman added that the number of trees impacted in a residential area, the health of the residents. Who lived in greener areas, suffered less often from cardiovascular diseases or Diabetes. In their study, the scientists tried to make an estimation, that also other factors influence health. This includes a higher socio-economic Status that allows people to move into the Green, and at the same time, often with a healthier diet and more exercise goes hand in hand.
Forest medicine as a branch of research
In Japan, “Shinrin-yoku”, the “bathing in the forest”, is in fact part of the state health care system, “forest medicine” is a separate branch of research in Japanese universities in 2012. Here is also explored, which factors provide for the positive health effects. So, it is still unclear whether it is the air of the forest, or to the special Vegetation.
It makes such a difference if you walk by a Japanese or German forest? The self-experiment you can do at least since 2017 on the island of Usedom: Here’s the first certified Spa and healing forest of Germany, the the operator also known as a “natural pharmacy”.