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Forest Bathing or Urban Parks?

Research shows benefits in immersive nature.

People forest bathing and walking

As exercise programs move outdoors, fit pros may want to offer activities in truly natural settings whenever possible. Forest bathing in an actual forest, in contrast to walking in an urban park, provides superior health benefits, according to findings reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2022; 19 [6], 3451).

National Taiwan University researchers in Taipei investigated what, if any, different effects would occur in the two settings. Participants who walked in forests had healthier metrics for heart rate, blood pressure and cardiac output than those who walked in urban parks. While activity in any greenspaces is beneficial, a more natural environment, like with forest bathing, results in a more positive impact on heart health. Researchers could not identify reasons for the difference.

See also: Prepare Clients for the Hiking Trail

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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