Across the last three decades, international research has demonstrated and validated the many health benefits Forest Therapy and Shinrin-yoku bring about. These benefits can be classified into two groups: direct and indirect effects.

Main direct effects
The main physiological and mental health benefits of guided Forest Therapy walks are:

  • reduced blood pressure (systolic and diastolic)
  • lowered pulse rate
  • reduced stress hormone (cortisol) level
  • reduced anxiety
  • surge in the activity of cancer- and tumor-fighting blood cells (‘natural killer’ cells)
  • active exposure to anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-viral substances emitted by trees and plants (phytoncides)
  • increased happiness and positive mood
  • enhanced energy level
  • better concentration

Main indirect effects
Regular guided Forest Therapy walks bring about the following indirect or long-term health effects:

  • increased overall fitness level
  • improved immune system
  • weight loss
  • reduced risk of obesity
  • reduced risk of heart and lung diseases
  • decrease in anxiety
  • reduced risk of getting depressed
  • less likelihood of feeling stressed in typical day-to-day situations
  • better and more regular sleep
  • more positive mood and motivation (meaning: less mood-swings)
  • enhanced ability to focus
  • higher self-confidence and a more stable personality

The degree of measured health benefits varies from person to person due to a number of factors coming into play (for example, overall constitution and health, age, gender, hormonal and genetic dispositions, previous illnesses, lifestyle, type of forest etc.). For further reading about the benefits of Forest Therapy please see our references or the International Handbook of Forest Therapy (edited by Kotte, Li, Shin & Michalsen 2019).