A natural antidote to a harried urban life

by Katherine Fleming

For many, it is an intangible feeling: that an early morning walk in the park lifts the spirits, a swim in the ocean is restorative, that hearing magpies warbling in bushland brings a sense of calm.

The Japanese have a name for it — Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing — which describes the mental and physical benefits of spending time in nature, a practice that is now a well-accepted therapy.

Some doctors elsewhere in the world have also been known to prescribe it, as they would a drug.

A recent Australian study determined the “dose” needed to have an effect on depression and high blood pressure, finding 30 minutes a week could reduce both, by up to 7 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.

But the question of exactly how the natural world has such a profound effect on just about every system in the human body — and the risks we face as we increasingly move indoors — will be the focus of the inaugural Nature Play conference in Fremantle tomorrow.

Read the full story at The West Australian

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