The average Finn has only 600 meters to go to the forest, he says Terveysmetsä project . For half of the entire population of Finland, the distance is no more than 200 meters. In recent years, the revitalizing power of nature has begun to be valued more as a source of well-being and recovery.
The forest has a relaxing effect on people. Relaxation sends calming messages to the entire central nervous system and thereby grounds the mind and body. When a person's central nervous system calms down, it has effects on our entire body: muscle and nervous system function, blood pressure, immunity, hormone production and mental health - and thus recovery and stress management.
Nature as a source of well-being and revitalization
Just 20 minutes is enough to reduce stress
Commissioned by the Forestry Research Institute research according to, just 20 minutes of being in nature produces many health benefits. Spending time in nature stabilizes the heart rate and breathing rate, lowers blood pressure and reduces the production of stress hormones.
The scents of the forest, relaxing sounds and landscapes reduce our stress. As our vital functions calm down, the level of cortisol, the stress hormone, gradually begins to decrease and is replaced by hormone compounds that produce pleasure. The rejuvenating power of nature is precisely based on the reduction of the stress level. Revitalizing experiences available in nature have a significant impact on maintaining emotional well-being. Being outdoors in nature is calming - in a safe environment, positive thoughts increase while negative emotions, such as restlessness, fear and anxiety, begin to ease.
After being in nature for more than two hours, the body's immune defense system also develops when a person comes into contact with microbes and bacteria. According to the Allergy and Asthma Association, moving in nature would already partly prevent public health diseases, of which, for example, many allergies, asthma and partly also diabetes originate from humans' disconnection from nature and its microbial population, even though a few thousand years ago we were part of nature.
Effects on the quality of sleep and rest
The forest has an enchanting effect on people. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, in the midst of all the flood of information, our ability to concentrate is constantly disturbed and it is tested in many ways, such as messages arriving on the phone and browsing social media even during small breaks.
Instead, in the forest, in the middle of nature, for example, the leaves of a swaying tree, a babbling brook or the sounds of birds take our attention to relaxation through enchantment. The psychological effect of enchantment and other relaxing nature experiences called recovery .
Relaxation and calming down, on the other hand, have favorable effects on the quality of sleep and rest. We can sleep a lot in quantity, but the quality of sleep is much more important. How much of the night we sleep in deep sleep. A relaxed body reaches deep sleep more easily. A person's ability to relax can temporarily ease a stressful situation or lack of sleep. So you can seek help from nature on your own for sleep problems and the ability to relax.
Go to the forest!
Exercising in the forest has many health benefits, even if we only talk about being in the forest and the time spent in the forest without exercise or physical activity. Jogging, hiking or other physical activity in the forest doubles the power and increases well-being as well as physical fitness.
However, a strained mind and body need recovery and relaxation above all, so the smallest nature experience can be a walk in the nearby forest and sitting there on the beak of a tree stump and listening to birdsong in complete peace.
I challenge you next summer to go out into nature and enjoy its revitalizing properties. Everyone can enjoy forests and nature experiences in their own way. Instead of hiking in the national park, our own local forests are equally valuable places for recovery.