Friday, 2023 December 1

[Tuning In] Immersing yourself in nature has long term health benefits, says Dr. Öhman

Dr. Miina Öhman is a physician scientist who has studied obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes for the past two decades. She is an advocate of preventive medicine, i.e. healthy lifestyle and holistic wellbeing, which contribute remarkably to human health span. Dr. Öhman loves nature and outdoors, and believes in the healing power of natural environments for people who suffer from the stressors of hectic urban lifestyle.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

KrAsia (Kr): What drew you into doing research around health benefits of nature immersion?

Miina Öhman (MÖ): I lived the earlier half of my life in Finland, which is the most forested country in Europe, has a very low population density and no big metropoles. I then lived in the US for ten years and moved to Singapore about nine years ago. The sprawling urban landscape here really provided a stark contrast to the environment I grew up in. After noticing how some urban stressors affected myself here, I was interested to understand better the differences in lifestyle as well as stress levels, because urban populations are known to be chronically stressed, but many of us don’t necessarily know where the stress it’s coming from. The disconnection from nature certainly plays a role.I started reading about Japanese forest therapy (shinrin yoku), and I remember thinking what is so special about the Japanese people walking in a forest? In Finland, everybody walks in the forest! It piqued my interest, and I decided to delve into the different ways nature can help people to cope with stress, in particular those living an urban lifestyle.

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