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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Nov 6;16(22). pii: E4325. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16224325.

Traditional Korean Medicine-Based Forest Therapy Programs Providing Electrophysiological Benefits for Elderly Individuals.

Author information

1
Department of Forest Therapy, Graduate School of Chungbuk National University, Chungju, Chungbuk 28644, Korea.
2
Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon 34054, Korea.
3
Human Anti-Aging Standards Research Institute, Uiryeong, Gyungnam 52151, Korea.

Abstract

We aimed to develop forest therapy programs (FTPs) to prevent dementia and related health problems in the elderly population, with the assumption that health benefits are FTP-type specific and depend on the participant's psychophysiological traits. For this purpose, we developed two distinct FTPs, namely, a guided-breathing meditation program (BP) and a walking program (WP); we adopted the approach of Sasang constitutional (SC) medicine, which categorizes individuals into one of three SC types (SC1, SC2, or SC3) for medical care. The FTPs ran 11 sessions over 11 weeks. We recruited 29/31/28 participants who were 65 years of age or older for the BP/WP/control groups, respectively; obtained electrophysiological measurements via electroencephalogram (EEG), heart rate variability (HRV), and bioimpedance; and analyzed the intervention effects with analysis of covariance. Compared with the control, the BP and WP resulted in benefits for neural activity and parasympathetic nervous activity (PNA), respectively, and both FTPs yielded distinct beneficial effects on bioimpedance. Constitution-specific effects were also present. The SC1- and SC2-type participants gained positive effects in neural activity from the BP and WP, respectively. The SC3-type participants showed improvements in PNA from the WP. In conclusion, for older individuals, both programs conferred health benefits that would help prevent dementia, and the benefits were program-specific and constitution-specific.

KEYWORDS:

EEG; HRV; Sasang constitutional medicine; bioimpedance; breathing program; cognitive impairment; dementia; electrophysiology; forest therapy; walking program

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