A walk in the forest – level 2
Just the smell of trees has health benefits. Studies have also shown that children with ADHD who play in a green outdoor environment, rather than an indoor or constructed environment, show a decrease in their symptoms. Even just living around more trees can result in a healthier overall mental state. One study showed that Londoners who live near trees take fewer antidepressants.
Of course, being in a forest also means there's a certain amount of exercise going on. If some of these studies seem too specific to be useful in answering the broader question, their results in sum suggest that time spent in nature improves human health. The more difficult questions are how, and in what ways, these effects arise.
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These questions are not the kind that can be answered by a single, groundbreaking paper; rather, like so many of the subtle and complex problems science explores, the evidence is being deposited, small study by small study, like layers of sediment on a river bed. He and his colleagues recently measured specific physiological markers before and after study subjects took walks in a forest and in an urban control environment.
Levels of the stress hormone noradrenaline, measured in urine, were also significantly lower after the forest walk than after the urban walk. And blood levels of the adrenal hormone dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate DHEA-S and of adiponectin, a hormone secreted by fat tissue, were higher after the forest walk but not the urban walk.
The authors note that DHEA-S may contribute to heart health, among other benefits, and that lower levels of adiponectin are associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. In a separate study for which Li was also lead author, researchers unsurprisingly found higher concentrations of several phytoncides in a forest than in an urban area of Tokyo. In this three-day field experiment, 12 young male subjects visited forest and urban environments.
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Pulse rates were lower, as were salivary levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol, which is associated with stress. Participants reported that their positive feelings increased, and negative feelings decreased, in the forest.
Blood-pressure measurements, however, did not differ significantly between the forest and urban locations. The authors also measured phytoncide levels in the forest study area and found 10 different compounds, ranging in concentration from 0.
A walk in the forest – level 1 | LearnEnglish Teens - British Council
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