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1 commentStudies show that spending more time in natural settings—forests, parks, and places with trees—improves the immune system. According an article in the New York Times, this is due to both stress reduction and chemicals that plants emit to protect them from rotting and insects called phytoncides. Exposure to phytoncides appears to lower blood pressure, pulse rate, and cortisol (a stress hormone), among other things. Many of these studies are taking place in Japan, where the practice of visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect is called Shinrin-yoku. Many studies demonstrate the positive effects of being outdoors. More »