Reducing Levels of Stress through Natural Environments: Take a Park, Not a Pill

By Alan W. Ewert, Jim Klaunig, Zemin Wang and Yun Chang.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: January 21, 2016 $US5.00

The presence of stress and its effects on the lives of many people throughout the world is a major health issue in society. A growing number of studies have shown that visiting green spaces and being exposed to natural environments can reduce psychological stress, increase psychological well-being, and support recovery from illness and disease. This study examined the effects of visitation to a natural environment area on levels of stress as measured by cortisol. Participants were asked to give pre-visit and post-visit samples of saliva. Salivary cortisol was used as a biological indicator of stress (dependent variable) along with the independent variables of sex, length of duration of visit, and age. Based on a sample size of 47, significant reductions in levels of cortisol were noted immediately after visiting a local municipal natural area when compared to those levels of cortisol upon arriving. In addition, a significant positive correlation was observed between levels of cortisol reduction and length of visit.

Keywords: Cortisol, Natural Environments, Parks, Stress, Health

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 6, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.35-43. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: January 21, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 629.709KB)), ISSN: ISSN 2156-8960.

Dr. Alan W. Ewert

Professor, Department of Environmental Health, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Dr. Jim Klaunig

Department of Environmental Health, Indiana University, USA

Dr. Zemin Wang

Senior Research Scientist, Department of Environmental Health, Indiana University, USA

Yun Chang

Visiting Lecturer, Indiana University, USA