EVER wondered why walking in a natural environment like the New Forest makes you feel so good?

Here are five ways forest power can improve your health and boost your mood...

1 A new study showed that being in a forest helped people to quell ruminative thoughts – the niggling, negative ideas that contribute to stress and depression.

And the reason this helps is because the natural environment prompts ‘cognitive reappraisal’ – the way we view events and experiences.

2 Latest research shows that even just sitting in a forest reduces blood-pressure and decreases the production of stress-related hormones. In some cases researchers discovered that merely looking at a drawing or photo of trees would have this effect.

3 Plants such as the pines, firs and ancient broadleaved trees you find in the New Forest give off essential oils known as phytoncides.

These oils are formed to protect trees from attack by insects and germs and they have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

Scientists believe that when we breathe in these natural chemicals they help us increase and improve the function of our white blood cells – the ones which attack viruses and tumours.

4 The New Forest also has more than 40 miles of coastline, as well as waterways which can double up the health benefits.

In her new book, Forest Therapy: Seasonal Ways to Embrace Nature For A Happier You, Sarah Ivens writes: “The presence of water – a lake, river or ocean – makes the positive effects of happiness even more noticeable.”

5 And the best news of all is that it’s as simple as hopping on a train, getting on your bike, or driving to one of the free forest car parks and then walking into the green.