We previously found that forest environments reduced stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline and showed the relaxing effect both in male and female subjects. In the present study, we investigated the effects of walking under forest environments on cardiovascular and metabolic parameters. Sixteen healthy male subjects (mean age 57.4 ± 11.6 years) were selected after obtaining informed consent. The subjects took day trips to a forest park in the suburbs of Tokyo and to an urban area of Tokyo as a control in September 2010. On both trips, they walked for 2 h in the morning and afternoon on a Sunday. Blood and urine were sampled on the morning before each trip and after each trip. Blood pressure was measured on the morning (0800) before each trip, at noon (1300), in the afternoon (1600) during each trip, and on the morning (0800) after each trip. The day trip to the forest park significantly reduced blood pressure and urinary noradrenaline and dopamine levels and significantly increased serum adiponectin and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) levels. Walking exercise also reduced the levels of serum N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and urinary dopamine. Taken together, habitual walking in forest environments may lower blood pressure by reducing sympathetic nerve activity and have beneficial effects on blood adiponectin and DHEA-S levels, and habitual walking exercise may have beneficial effects on blood NT-proBNP levels.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Antoni MH (2003) Stress management effects on psychological, endocrinological, and immune functioning in men with HIV infection: empirical support for a psychoneuroimmunological model. Stress 6:173–188
Berent R, von Duvillard SP, Crouse SF, Auer J, Green JS, Sinzinger H, Schmid P (2009) Short-term residential cardiac rehabilitation reduces B-type natriuretic peptide. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil 16:603–608
Bjørgaas MR, Vik JT, Stølen T, Lydersen S, Grill V (2008) Regular use of pedometer does not enhance beneficial outcomes in a physical activity intervention study in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism 57:605–611
Bjørnerem A, Straume B, Midtby M, Fønnebø V, Sundsfjord J, Svartberg J, Acharya G, Oian P, Berntsen GK (2004) Endogenous sex hormones in relation to age, sex, lifestyle factors, and chronic diseases in a general population: The Tromso Study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 89:6039–6047
Bravata DM, Smith-Spangler C, Sundaram V, Gienger AL, Lin N, Lewis R, Stave CD, Olkin I, Sirard JR (2007) Using pedometers to increase physical activity and improve health: a systematic review. JAMA 298:2296–2304
Brzoza Z, Kasperska-Zajac A, Badura-Brzoza K, Matysiakiewicz J, Hese RT, Rogala B (2008) Decline in dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate observed in chronic urticaria is associated with psychological distress. Psychosom Med 70:723–728
Chang RY, Koo M, Ho MY, Lin ZZ, Yu ZR, Lin YF, Wang BJ (2011) Effects of Tai Chi on adiponectin and glucose homeostasis in individuals with cardiovascular risk factors. Eur J Appl Physiol 111:57–66
Dayawansa S, Umeno K, Takakura H, Hori E, Tabuchi E, Nagashima Y, Oosu H, Yada Y, Suzuki T, Ono T, Nishijo H (2003) Autonomic responses during inhalation of natural fragrance of Cedrol in humans. Auton Neurosci 108:79–86
de Lemos JA, McGuire DK, Drazner MH (2003) B-type natriuretic peptide in cardiovascular disease. Lancet 362:316–322
Ferguson MA, White LJ, McCoy S, Kim HW, Petty T, Wilsey J (2004) Plasma adiponectin response to acute exercise in healthy subjects. Eur J Appl Physiol 91:324–329
Frankenhaeuser M (1975) Experimental approach to the study of catecholamines and emotion. In: Levi L (ed) Emotions, their parameters and measurement.Raven Press, New York, pp 209
Frassl W, Kowoll R, Katz N, Speth M, Stangl A, Brechtel L, Joscht B, Boldt LH, Meier-Buttermilch R, Schlemmer M, Roecker L, Gunga HC (2008) Cardiac markers (BNP, NT-pro-BNP, Troponin I, Troponin T, in female amateur runners before and up until three days after a marathon. Clin Lab 54:81–87
Jürimäe J, Purge P, Jürimäe T (2005) Adiponectin is altered after maximal exercise in highly trained male rowers. Eur J Appl Physiol 93:502–505
Jürimäe J, Purge P, Jürimäe T (2006) Adiponectin and stress hormone responses to maximal sculling after volume-extended training season in elite rowers. Metabolism 55:13–19
Kraemer RR, Aboudehen KS, Carruth AK, Durand RT, Acevedo EO, Hebert EP, Johnson LG, Castracane VD (2003) Adiponectin responses to continuous and progressively intense intermittent exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35:1320–1325
Lee LL, Watson MC, Mulvaney CA, Tsai CC, Lo SF (2010) The effect of walking intervention on blood pressure control: A systematic review. Int J Nurs Stud 47:1545–1561
Li Q, Morimoto K, Nakadai A, Inagaki H, Katsumata M, Shimizu T, Hirata Y, Hirata K, Suzuki H, Miyazaki Y, Kagawa T, Koyama Y, Ohira T, Takayama N, Krensky AM, Kawada T (2007a) Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol 20(S2):3–8
Li Q, Morimoto K, Nakadai A, Qu T, Matsushima H, Katsumata M, Shimizu T, Inagaki H, Hirata Y, Hirata K, Kawada T, Lu Y, Nakayama K, Krensky AM (2007b) Healthy lifestyles are associated with higher levels of perforin, granulysin and granzymes A/B-expressing cells in peripheral blood lymphocytes. Prev Med 44:117–123
Li Q, Morimoto K, Kobayashi M, Inagaki H, Katsumata M, Hirata Y, Hirata K, Suzuki H, Li YJ, Wakayama Y, Kawada T, Park BJ, Ohira T, Matsui N, Kagawa T, Miyazaki Y, Krensky AM (2008a) Visiting a forest, but not a city, increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol 21:117–128
Li Q, Morimoto K, Kobayashi M, Inagaki H, Katsumata M, Hirata Y, Hirata K, Shimizu T, Li YJ, Wakayama Y, Kawada T, Ohira T, Takayama N, Kagawa T, Miyazaki Y (2008b) A forest bathing trip increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins in female subjects. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents 22:45–55
Li Q, Kobayashi M, Kawada T (2008c) Relationships between percentage of forest coverage and standardized mortality ratios (SMR) of cancers in all prefectures in Japan. Open Public Health J 1:1–7
Li Q, Kobayashi M, Wakayama Y, Inagaki H, Katsumata M, Hirata Y, Hirata K, Shimizu T, Kawada T, Ohira T, Park BJ, Kagawa T, Miyazaki Y (2009) Effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer function. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol 22:951–959
Li Q, Kobayashi M, Inagaki H, Hirata Y, Hirata K, Li YJ, Shimizu T, Suzuki H, Wakayama Y, Katsumata M, Kawada T, Ohira T, Matsui N, Kagawa T (2010) A day trip to a forest park increases human natural killer activity and the expression of anti-cancer proteins in male subjects. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents 24:157–165
Lippi G, Salvagno GL, Montagnana M, Schena F, Ballestrieri F, Guidi GC (2006) Influence of physical exercise and relationship with biochemical variables of NT-pro-brain natriuretic peptide and ischemia modified albumin. Clin Chim Acta 367:175–180
Maria Sarullo F, Gristina T, Brusca I, Milia S, Raimondi R, Sajeva M, Maria La Chiusa S, Serio G, Paterna S, Di Pasquale P, Castello A (2006) Effect of physical training on exercise capacity, gas exchange and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide levels in patients with chronic heart failure. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil 13:812–817
Mena-Martín FJ, Martín-Escudero JC, Simal-Blanco F, Carretero-Ares JL, Arzúa-Mouronte D, Castrodeza Sanz JJ, Hortega Study Investigators (2006) Influence of sympathetic activity on blood pressure and vascular damage evaluated by means of urinary albumin excretion. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich) 8:619–624
Numao S, Suzuki M, Matsuo T, Nomata Y, Nakata Y, Tanaka K (2008) Effects of acute aerobic exercise on high-molecular-weight adiponectin. Med Sci Sports Exerc 40:1271–1276
Park BJ, Tsunetsugu Y, Kasetani T, Kagawa T, Miyazaki Y (2010) The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environ Health Prev Med 15:18–26
Scott JM, Esch BT, Shave R, Warburton DE, Gaze D, George K (2009) Cardiovascular consequences of completing a 160-km ultramarathon. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41:26–34
Seino Y, Ogawa A, Yamashita T, Fukushima M, Ogata K, Fukumoto H, Takano T (2004) Application of NT-proBNP and BNP measurements in cardiac care: a more discerning marker for the detection and evaluation of heart failure. Eur J Heart Fail 6:295–300
Simpson KA, Singh MA (2008) Effects of exercise on adiponectin: a systematic review. Obesity 16:241–256
Tremblay M, Copeland J, Van Helder W (2004) Effect of training status and exercise mode on endogenous steroid hormones in men. J Appl Physiol 96:531–539
Tsai YM, Chou SW, Lin YC, Hou CW, Hung KC, Kung HW, Lin TW, Chen SM, Lin CY, Kuo CH (2006) Effect of resistance exercise on dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate concentrations during a 72-h recovery: relation to glucose tolerance and insulin response. Life Sci 79:1281–1286
Vogel T, Brechat PH, Leprêtre PM, Kaltenbach G, Berthel M, Lonsdorfer J (2009) Health benefits of physical activity in older patients: a review. Int J Clin Pract 63:303–320
This work was supported in part by a research project from the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan (2010).
Conflict of interest
Communicated by Susan A. Ward.
About this article
Cite this article
Li, Q., Otsuka, T., Kobayashi, M. et al. Acute effects of walking in forest environments on cardiovascular and metabolic parameters. Eur J Appl Physiol 111, 2845–2853 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-1918-z
- Blood pressure
- Forest environment