Amid the 200-year-old forest and a thousand spruce trees, a unique wellness centre is being created in Saalbach (Austria). However, this is not a ‘wellness centre’ with elaborate buildings or man made facilities but rather a place that is in complete harmony with nature.
Based on a series of scientific studies, two stress hormone (cortisol and adrenaline) levels sink significantly after a day in the forest. The forest environment can therefore help stress-related illnesses as well as heart and cardiovascular diseases, insomnia and depression.
Phytoncides, which are emitted by trees to protect them from germs and insect can boost the health of humans too. Inhaling phytoncide seems to actually improve immune system function in humans. In several Japanese studies, exposure to forest air has been proven to increase the level of natural killer (NK) cells in the immune system.
NK cells provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells and also respond to tumour formation. Consequently, this is an important development for immune system health research also cancer prevention. Significant increases in NK cell activity have been shown in the week after a forest visit and positive effects can last a month following each weekend in the woods.
Spending time at altitude also has a positive affect on people recovering from cancer. Endurance athletes are not the only ones to benefit from altitude training. Cancer-fighting cells of the immune system can also improve their performance by spending time at altitude. In a study published in Cell Reports, Weizmann Institute of Science researchers have shown that immune system’s killer T cells destroy cancerous tumors much more effectively after being starved for oxygen.
To enable people to spend time in the alpine forest environment, Saalbach has constructed a forest trail and a series of wooden platforms situated under the treetops. Yoga classes are offered and a small library also invites you to relax and chill out on a hammock.
Anyone wanting to embrace the art of mindfulness will find this natural wellness environment an ideal place to do so. This is a place to relieve stress and stimulate the body’s defence system. Picnic baskets, filled with wild herb smoothies and many other local delicacies, are available to pre-order at the Reiteralm.
For some years now, the ‘4 Cancer Group’ has been working closely with the Saalbach, once of Austria’s principal ski resorts, principally through our Ski 4 Cancer subsidiary. We have staged several fundraising events in Saalbach and have also funded several alpine respite breaks here for families recovering from cancer.
Find out more about the new ‘Forest Wellness’ centre at Saalbach.com