Forest Bathing: What It Is and Why It’s Healthy
Wellness trends come and go, but we can always look to nature for timeless wisdom that’ll never go out of style. If you’ve taken a walk in the woods lately, you probably know what we mean.
Forest bathing is a creative term for something our ancestors have known for a long time: nature heals. It comes from the Japanese phrase “shinrin-yoku,” which means taking in the forest atmosphere, and was first proposed in 1982 by the Forest Agency of Japan as a wellness and relaxation activity to promote good health – especially for those who lived in cities.
Simply being among trees, breathing fresh air, and walking at a comfortable pace can do our bodies and minds a world of good. But it wasn’t until recently that the scientific research of forest bathing caught up with the reasons how.
Here are some of the benefits associated with walking in a forest:
- Improved immune system functioning, with an increase in the body’s cancer fighting Natural Killer cells – partly due to the essential oils from wood in the air
- Reduced stress and blood pressure – via a reduction in cortisol
- Improved mood/positive outlook
- Increase in energy
- Greater ability to focus and think clearly
- Improved sleep
- Quicker healing from illness or surgery
Additionally, participants in research studies on forest bathing showed a decrease in mortality rate from cancer and a greater frequency in feeling “calm,” and children also experienced benefits in fitness, weight, and attention span.
Now that spring is upon us in the northern hemisphere, this is the perfect time to get the benefits of forest bathing firsthand! No matter where you live, find the closest forest or hiking trail and embrace wilderness on a regular basis.
Why do we love forest bathing?
At Institute for Integrative Nutrition, we believe that health is about much more than what you eat. Our concept of Primary Food states that a holistic approach to life creates the greatest balance, which is why we consider spending time in nature, physical movement, a fulfilling career, nurturing relationships, and many other non-dietary elements as all playing a vital role in our wellbeing.
What do you think about forest bathing? Will you give it a try?