Is wilderness a necessity? Go to a forest, walk slowly, breathe and heal! Japanese researchers are seeking a new preventive method against lifestyle-related diseases and proposed a new concept called forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku.
What is forest bathing?
Forest bathing is a short relaxing visit to a forest. It is a recognized relaxation and stress management activity which has a similar effect to natural aromatherapy for the purpose of relaxation. The idea is simple: if somebody visits a natural area and walks, there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved. The Japanese government now officially recognises certain forests by granting the designations of Forest Therapy Base and Forest Therapy Road.
In Japan there is a shift from disease treatment to prevention. Forest bathing improves human natural killer activity by increasing the number of natural killing cells and the levels of anticancer proteins. Forest environments also reduce sympathetic nervous activity and increase parasymptathetic nervous activity. Therefore it has beneficial, long, from 1 to 4-week lasting effects on cardiovascular functions.
Beneficial effects of forest bathing
- boosted immune system functioning
- reduced blood pressure
- reduced pulse rate
- reduced stress
- improved mood
- increased ability to focus
- improved sleep
Re-connect with nature!
Choose a spot based on physical ability and convenience. It is recommended that in 4 hours you should walk no more than 3 miles (4-5 kilometres). Find a place in the forest you like. Enjoy the forest thorugh the 5 senses. If you want to boost your immunity, a 3-day/2-night forest bathing trip is recommended. If you want to release your problems and reduce stress, a day trip is also fine.
Remember: forest bathing is just a preventive measure for diseases. So, if you are down with an illness, visit a doctor, not a forest.