Sunday, April 24, 2011

Walking in the Woods

Trees are good for you. Walking in the woods can reduce stress and depression, ease muscle tension, counter attention deficit disorder, and even calm an erratic heart.

You knew that anyway, but fortunately intrepid Finnish researchers have come up with interesting proof. Published in Environmental Health Magazine, the Finns have collated evidence that forests promote Human Health. Forests reduce physical and mental stress. The researchers say, " Forests represent rich natural pharmacies by virtue of being enormous sources of plant and microbial material with known or potential medicinal or nutritional value. Forest food offers a safety net for the most vulnerable population groups in developing countries, and healthy forest ecosystems may also help in regulation of infectious diseases." Despite the large amount of work on biodiversity and forests, the psychological and medicinal aspects have not been studied greatly. Perhaps their very familiarity made them elusive as a subject of study - we all know from childhood on that it is good to have a romp in the woods.
Forests may even have an anti-cancer factor, "Forest visits may strengthen the human immune system. Spending time in forest increases natural killer (NK) activity in humans. The increase was observed as long as 30 days later. Since NK cells can kill tumor cells by releasing anticancer proteins, forest visits may have a preventive effect on cancer generation and development," according to Japanese researchers.

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