Listening to the sounds of the forest is good for your health. We have the scientific proof

A new study conducted by researchers at Carleton University, Michigan State University and Colorado State University in collaboration with the U.S. National Park Service suggests we should listen to the forest more often.

In their view, the sounds of nature are not only very pleasant and have a calming effect on us (there’s a reason why relaxation music is full of the sound of water or the chirping of birds), but also have many health benefits, although finding the right sounds won’t be that easy. Most of us will probably agree with the first one, because a walk in the woods after a hard day at work really does have a calming effect, relaxing you and allowing you to push away all the stress, but how would it work for our health (except that instead of sitting on the couch we get out of the house and move around)? The researchers have their theory, based on a careful analysis of 36 previous studies that were conducted in laboratories and hospitals in 11 different countries.

The new study, led by Rachel Buxton and looking at the analysis of sounds from 251 sites in 66 U.S. national parks, shows that the environment does affect the health of patients. Thus, if the area had lots of natural sounds and few artificial ones, the patients’ condition improved, they felt less pain, had better mood, better cognitive abilities, were positive, less stressed and irritable. What’s more, different sounds had different effects – water sounds were best at improving mood and health, while birdsong lowered stress and irritability. It’s like a reversal of the increasingly serious environmental noise problem associated with modern industrialization, often causing nervousness and even health problems.

The problem is that these particular positive sounds of nature are hard to separate and are often disturbed by human activity, so enjoying them in some parts of the world is severely hampered. For example, in the United States, where there are 63 national parks, it is hard to find places where the sounds of nature are pristine. As a result, the U.S. National Park Service is trying to change this situation, especially in parks near cities with heavy tourist traffic, by conducting activities to reduce outside noise.

One way to do this is to create so-called “listening paths” that encourage visitors to be quiet and enjoy the sounds of nature. – The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted in many ways the importance of nature to human health. When traffic dropped as a result of the quarantine, people connected with the soundscape in an entirely different way – they began to notice the relaxing sounds of birds singing just outside their windows. How significant it is that these sounds are also good for our health, the researchers explain.

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