• A pragmatic controlled trial of forest bathing compared with compassionate mind training in the UK: impacts on self- reported wellbeing and heart rate variability

      McEwan, Kirsten; Giles, David; Clarke, Fiona; Kotera, Yasuhiro; Evans, Gary; Terebenina, Olga; Minou, Lina; Teeling, Claire; Basran, Jaskaran; Wood, Wendy; et al. (MDPI, 2021-01-28)
      Forest Bathing, where individuals use mindfulness to engage with nature, has been re-ported to increase heart rate variability and benefit wellbeing. To date, most Forest Bathing studies have been conducted in Asia. Accordingly, this paper reports the first pragmatic controlled trial of Forest Bathing in the United Kingdom, comparing Forest Bathing with a control comprising an es-tablished wellbeing intervention also known to increase heart rate variability called Compassion-ate Mind Training. Sixty-one university staff and students (50 females, 11 males) were allocated to (i) Forest Bathing, (ii) Compassionate Mind Training or (iii) Forest Bathing combined with Com-passionate Mind Training. Wellbeing and heart rate variability were measured at baseline, post-intervention and three-months follow-up. There were improvements in positive emotions, mood disturbance, rumination, nature connection and compassion and 57% of participants showed an increase in heart rate variability (RMSSD -parasympathetic activity). There were no significant differences between conditions, showing that Forest Bathing had an equivalence with an established wellbeing intervention. The findings will help healthcare providers and policy makers to understand the effects of Forest Bathing and implement it as a feasible social prescription to improve wellbeing. Future research needs to involve clinical populations and to assess the effects of Forest Bathing in a fully powered randomised controlled trial (RCT) .