Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Boost your immune system, shake off stress by walking in the woods

Date:
October 3, 2013
Source:
Loyola University Health System
Summary:
Work, home, even in the car, stress is a constant struggle for many people. But it’s more than just exhausting and annoying. Unmanaged stress can lead to serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

“When we walk in a forest or park, our levels of white blood cells increase and it also lowers our pulse rate, blood pressure and level of the stress hormone cortisol,” Michelfelder said.
Credit: Carsten Meyer / Fotolia

Work, home, even in the car, stress is a constant struggle for many people. But it's more than just exhausting and annoying. Unmanaged stress can lead to serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

"The American lifestyle is fast-paced and productive, but can be extremely stressful. If that stress it not addressed, our bodies and minds can suffer," said Dr. Aaron Michelfelder, professor of family medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Our bodies need sleep to rejuvenate and if we are uptight and stressed we aren't able to get the rest we need. This can lead to serious physical and mental health issues, which is why it's extremely important to wind down, both body and mind, after a stressful day.

According to Michelfelder, one of best ways to wind down and reconnect after a stressful day is by taking a walk. Though any walking is good, walking in the woods or in nature has been proven to be even better at reducing stress and improving your health.

"When we get to nature, our health improves," Michelfelder said. "Our stress hormones rise all day long in our bloodstream and taking even a few moments while walking to reconnect with our inner thoughts and to check in with our body will lower those damaging stress hormones. Walking with our family or friends is also a great way to lower our blood pressure and make us happier."

Research out of Japan shows that walking in the woods also may play a role in fighting cancer. Plants emit a chemical called phytoncides that protects them from rotting and insects. When people breathe it in, there is an increase in the level of "natural killer" cells, which are part of a person's immune response to cancer.

"When we walk in a forest or park, our levels of white blood cells increase and it also lowers our pulse rate, blood pressure and level of the stress hormone cortisol," Michelfelder said.

He also suggests reading, writing, meditating or reflecting to help calm the mind after a long day. To help calm the body yoga and breathing exercises also are good.

"If you want to wind down, stay away from electronic screens as they activate the mind. Electronic devices stimulate brain activity and someone's post on Facebook or a story on the evening news might cause more stress," Michelfeder said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Loyola University Health System. "Boost your immune system, shake off stress by walking in the woods." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003132112.htm>.
Loyola University Health System. (2013, October 3). Boost your immune system, shake off stress by walking in the woods. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003132112.htm
Loyola University Health System. "Boost your immune system, shake off stress by walking in the woods." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003132112.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins