Huber Social and the Impact Hub conducted research in 2021 to measure the social impact of Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari.
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has designed a programme to enhance wellbeing. But we wanted to know if it was successful. Well we knew, we could see it on the faces of the participants. But where’s the science?
The aim of our programme is to offer new perspectives and ways in which participants can deepen their connection with nature and benefit their wellbeing. With a focus on the senses, slow walking, and gentle qigong movement participants are invited to discover different ways to experience and interact with the world of nature.
Our study sought to replicate in a simplified way a study by Dr Qing Li, the world's foremost expert in forest medicine. The study adopted methodologies used by his and other studies of the physiological and psychological impacts of shinrin-yoku or forest bathing practices and examines the changes to mood, blood pressure and pulse. Shinrin-yoku was developed in the 1980s in Japan. The Japanese government incorporated it into the country’s health programme. How amazing is that!
Two groups participated in our study, a local council group and corporate group. There were 22 participants in total, ranging from 21-69 years, of all genders.
Ours was not a rigorous scientific study and did not factor in existing health conditions or account for exercise, sleep or food/liquid intakes etc. It was undertaken to demonstrate the perceived benefits of nature immersion through data.
Blood pressure and pulse were measured 3 days before, 3 days after and on the day of the workshop. Measurements taken on the day of the workshop for the wider study (22 participants) showed a drop in average systolic blood pressure from 130.8 to 125 following the workshop and average diastolic blood pressure dropped from 82.1 to 77.6.
A profile of moods (POMS) survey – used in sports medicine primarily – was used to capture changes in mood. The survey asks participants to rate how they feel at a moment in time alongside various moods. The survey was distributed on the morning before the workshop and directly after the workshop.
The study showed a very positive effect on POMS scores. Feelings of anxiety, anger, fatigue, depression and confusion all dropped away markedly and vigour increased.
We also asked them about their experience of the workshop and this is some of what they said:
“The experience definitely relaxed me and took me out of my normal environment to allow me to reflect. I think this has helped me refocus my goals.”
“Very happy with the experience and came away refreshed [with] some more tools for the toolbox.”
“… a great way to bring the group together, felt safe and comfortable and felt a sense of camaraderie, at the end of the day.”
“I really enjoyed the day, it was a great reset for me after a bereavement and illness.
“Really enjoyed the experience … I learnt a lot about myself.”
“Wasn’t sure what to expect, was a bit hesitant to start with but it was such a relaxing rewarding day. I felt like I came out of the forest a new person with greater appreciation for the forest and all it had to offer. Slowing down showed me how much I would have missed had I gone in at my usual fast pace. So yeah I loved it and would recommend to others!”