Health and well-being benefits of spending time in forests

Systematic review

Byeongsang Oh, Kyung Ju Lee, Chris Zaslawski, Albert Yeung, David Rosenthal, Linda Larkey, Michael Back

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Numerous studies have reported that spending time in nature is associated with the improvement of various health outcomes and well-being. This review evaluated the physical and psychological benefits of a specific type of exposure to nature, forest therapy. Method: A literature search was carried out using MEDLINE, PubMed, ScienceDirect, EMBASE, and ProQuest databases and manual searches from inception up to December 2016. Key words: "Forest" or "Shinrin -Yoku" or "Forest bath" AND "Health" or "Wellbeing". The methodological quality of each randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was assessed according to the Cochrane risk of bias (ROB) tool. Results: Six RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Participants' ages ranged from 20 to 79 years. Sample size ranged from 18 to 99. Populations studied varied from young healthy university students to elderly people with chronic disease. Studies reported the positive impact of forest therapy on hypertension (n = 2), cardiac and pulmonary function (n = 1), immune function (n = 2), inflammation (n= 3), oxidative stress (n = 1), stress (n = 1), stress hormone (n= 1), anxiety (n= 1), depression (n = 2), and emotional response (n = 3). The quality of all studies included in this review had a high ROB. Conclusion: Forest therapy may play an important role in health promotion and disease prevention. However, the lack of high-quality studies limits the strength of results, rendering the evidence insufficient to establish clinical practice guidelines for its use. More robust RCTs are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironmental Health and Preventive Medicine
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Fingerprint

Health
Randomized Controlled Trials
Play Therapy
Health Promotion
Baths
Practice Guidelines
PubMed
MEDLINE
Sample Size
Oxidative Stress
Chronic Disease
Anxiety
Forests
Databases
Hormones
Depression
Students
Psychology
Hypertension
Inflammation

Keywords

  • Forest
  • Green environment
  • Health
  • Nature
  • Wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Health and well-being benefits of spending time in forests : Systematic review. / Oh, Byeongsang; Lee, Kyung Ju; Zaslawski, Chris; Yeung, Albert; Rosenthal, David; Larkey, Linda; Back, Michael.

In: Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Oh, Byeongsang ; Lee, Kyung Ju ; Zaslawski, Chris ; Yeung, Albert ; Rosenthal, David ; Larkey, Linda ; Back, Michael. / Health and well-being benefits of spending time in forests : Systematic review. In: Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. 2017 ; Vol. 22, No. 1.
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