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Front Public Health. 2019 Dec 12;7:376. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00376. eCollection 2019.

Combined Effect of Walking and Forest Environment on Salivary Cortisol Concentration.

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Department of Nursing, Ishikawa Prefectural Nursing University, Kahoku, Japan.
Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.
Department of Forest Resources, Kongju National University, Yesan-gun, South Korea.
Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan.
Department of Environment and Forest Resources, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, South Korea.


We investigated the effects of walking in a forest environment on salivary cortisol concentrations. Seventy-four young male participants walked for 15 min in forested and urban environments, and saliva was collected before and after walking. Our previous study reported salivary cortisol concentrations after walking only. This study was aimed at clarifying the combined effects of walking and environment by comparing post-walking data with pre-walking data. Walking in a forest environment decreased mean cortisol concentration from 9.70 to 8.37 nmol/L, whereas walking in an urban environment barely changed mean cortisol concentration, from 10.28 to 10.01 nmol/L. Two-way repeated analysis of variance revealed a significant interaction effect between the environment and walking (p < 0.001) in addition to the main effects of each (p < 0.001 and p = 0.001, for walking and environment, respectively). For further analysis, the proportion of participants who exhibited decreased cortisol after forest-walking was compared with the previously reported proportion of participants who exhibited decreased cortisol after viewing forest landscapes. Although the proportion of positive responders was slightly higher after walking (69%) than it was after viewing (60%), this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.093). The present study revealed a significant combined effect of walking and the environment on cortisol concentrations.


forest therapy; interaction; salivary cortisol; shinrin-yoku; walking

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