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Want to Enjoy a Long, Happy Life? Live Near Trees, Say Researchers

Thursday, December 7, 2017 14:04
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December 8th, 2017

By Carolanne Wright

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

If you’re anything like me, hiking through a forest, camping in the woods or savoring a natural space is a sure-fire way to boost mood, energy and vitality. The Japanese even have a name for it, Shinrin Yoku — otherwise known as forest bathing. And they have science to back-up the physiological benefits — stress markers like cortisol, pulse rate, blood pressure, parasympathetic and sympathetic nerve activity all improve with spending time in the woods. It’s not only the Japanese who have discovered the perks of spending time among the trees, Western researchers have now established that if you want a healthy brain and more resiliency to stress, living near a forest is one of the best moves you can make.

Healthy Brain Function Linked with Close Proximity to Forests

While forest fires continue to rage in Southern California, casting a smoky pall over the mental and physical health of the local residents, new research from Germany suggests that the benefits of living close to trees far outweigh the dangers.

The study looked at older urban dwellers and found that those who lived in close proximity to wooded landscapes had healthier function in the the amygdala region of the brain — a clustered set of neurons that play an important role in regulating emotions, especially fear and anxiety.

Analyzing data on 341 participants in the Berlin Aging Study II, researchers looked at “three different indicators of brain structural integrity” to gather distinct information on key areas of the brain. “Our results reveal a significant positive association between the coverage of forest and amygdala integrity,” note the team.

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