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Wellbeing and therapeutic opportunities at the Lahti Health Forest

The Lahti Health Forest is part of the larger Salpausselkä woodland park. Most of the Health Forest lies within the boundaries of the Kintterö nature reserve, which was established in 2018.
Kaksi kävelijää terveysmetsän pitkospuilla

The Health Forest concept is based on solid research into the health benefits of nature. Studies show that spending time in nature promotes both physical and mental health and wellbeing. A woodland walk is known to improve the mood, sharpen the senses and boost performance.

Amenities in the Health Forest include a yoga platform, a covered picnic area and a network of duckboards and benches.

The Health Forest has two trails for different fitness levels: a 3.4-kilometre circular route through woodland and a one-kilometre accessible loop around Likolampi pond.

–There are sensory exercises posted along the trail, which will instruct visitors to stop and take in the surrounding nature’, explains Project Manager Taru Suutari.

The Lahti Health Forest is free for everyone to enjoy and caters for different fitness levels. The Health Forest will be especially beneficial for Päijät-Häme Central Hospital, which can use it to look after its staff’s wellbeing and in patient therapy.

‘The concept is ultimately about a holistic approach to promoting physical and mental wellbeing. People often think that the health benefits of nature can only be unleashed through physical activity such as jogging. The Health Forest concept taps into the holistic effects of nature’, explains Medical Advisor Risto Kuronen from the wellbeing services county of Päijät-Häme.

The Health Forest has its own website (in Finnish), which features exercises to help school groups, for example, to explore the woodland independently.

‘The sensory exercises can also be enjoyed in any other woodland area’, Suutari says.

The Health Forest project has received funding from the EU’s GoGreenRoutes initiative since 2020.

Finland already has at least two other Health Forests – in Hyvinkää and Kajaani. Plans are under way to also open a Health Forest in Kouvola.