The first time you hear this term, you might think that “forest bathing” (literally a bath in the woods of the woods) means splashing into a spa source among the sequoia.
It sounds nice, but it’s not the correct definition. Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku in Japanese, in practice, consists of wandering around the woods and enjoying the benefits of this activity on health. When we can walk through the trees without distractions and hurry – ideally for two hours or more – it’s like bathing in the forest.
The Japanese government coined the term in the early 1980s, recognizing the benefits of forest bathing health and allocating money for research to a popular hobby already popular. An article in 2012 published on Outside Magazine has consolidated the popularity of practice in the US and today resorts and nature parks offer walks based on diving in the places and sounds of nature.
An expert in forest bathing predicts that within thirty years activity will be a widespread cultural practice such as yoga today. Because?
Forest bathing alleviates stress
From 2004 to 2012, the Japanese government has funded massively the research on forest bathing, as reported by Quartz. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Chiba compared about 300 students after a walk in town and after a walk in the forest. The students reported lower concentrations of cortisol , stress hormone, pulse rate, and reduced blood pressure after diving in green compared to the days they had dived in the city. Likewise, in a larger study conducted by researchers at the University of Kyoto, the participants reported lower values of hostility and depression after spending time in the woods when compared to the time spent in the urban environment.
It can help drive away the disease
Further research by Nippon Medical School found that the “natural killer” cells of the human immune system , helping us to protect ourselves against viruses and cancer, showed higher levels of activity in the participants who had done forest bathing, which were still increasing more after a second day of walks in the woods. In addition, cells continued to show increased activity levels more than a week from experience.
It is not entirely clear why forest bathing works, the Washington Post points out. Some experts believe that its benefits are due to the inoculation of phytonexides, substances released from plants to protect themselves from insects. Others are not so sure of the cause and argue that perhaps the increased sensations of astonishment are the reason why those who practice forest bathing enjoy better health.
In any case, it is clear that nature is good for both the body and the mind: a research conducted in the United States has shown that green hiking clears the mind more than any walk in the city, while a European study has shown that even only living in a tree-lined neighborhood reduces the mortality rate of the inhabitants by 16%. It is proven that spending time in nature relieves depression, improves concentration and creativity and makes you feel more alive.
In short, the forest is fine.
You will not believe how easy it is to do it
In Japan there are walking paths dedicated to “forest therapy”, chosen for their therapeutic qualities, in the forests of the nation. There is no such system in the United States, although it is possible to become a forest-friendly guide and guide others in their outdoor adventures.
But there is no need for specific training: just find a tree-lined place, and take a two-hour walk, enjoying the sight, the sounds and the smells of nature without a hurry. Breathe deeply, occasionally sit down and touch the trees and plants around you. Soon, you will discover that you feel a deeper love for nature – and also have a healthier body.