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Arboretum Mustila in Kouvola

Lower blood pressure and other joys of the forest

"If you go down in the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise."These are the lyrics for the Teddy Bears’ Picnic song. There’s quite a bit of research to show that a nature trip has some amazing health benefits

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These days we know that natural scenery has a calming effect and improves concentration. Similarly, it’s clear that being able to see the forest from a hospital window is good for you. The view can reduce physical symptoms and speed recovery.

Going out into nature has even greater health benefits. Just a five-minute spurt in the woods can lift your mood. In a quarter of an hour, vitality increases and blood pressure may go down. Stress and heart rate are reduced.

And if you also get moving while you’re in the woods, the health benefits are even better. Nature makes people move more energetically than when they are indoors; there are no sofas to sink into and sit about in the forest.

The forest is our health spa

The Finnish Forest Research Institute wellbeing research programme from 2008 - 2013 studied how the woods improve wellbeing. They proved that going into the woods calms you down, improves your mood, and is a good way to treat high blood pressure yourself.

Just being in the forest is enough to improve your wellbeing. You don’t need to do anything more than walk into the woods and just be. You don’t have to work at it unless you want to.

You don’t need primeval forest and rugged landscapes to get the benefit. The nearest local woods can improve your health; just a few trees are enough for a personal health spa.

But if you want to visit the top treatment facility, you’ll find it in Kouvola in Repovesi National Park. It’s worth taking a day or two to enjoy the curative treatments there. Another excellent place to get some positive vibes from nature is Arboretum Mustila.

A monthly dose of five hours

And that’s not all. Being in the woods reduces the load on the brain and stress levels compared to being in town. Exercising in a natural environment also contributes to social wellbeing. Walking in nature makes you more open to other people.

Going into the woods for an hour improves attentiveness. And if you can manage two hours in one go, your body’s defences get stronger.

The Finnish Forest Research Institute recommends spending five hours a month in nature near you. It should have a significant effect on your mental wellbeing.

But where do the health benefits come from? At least the sounds and scents of the forest could be the cause. According to Japanese research, essential oils found in the forest are believed to have a positive impact. It certainly doesn’t hurt to enjoy the views, feel the leaves and taste the wild berries.