The Japanese practice of “shinrin-yoku,” or “forest bathing” is simply being in the presence of trees – and it’s scientifically proven to boost the immune system, decrease stress, lower blood pressure and improve one’s sense of wellness.
Rather than hiking or mountain biking, forest bathing is focused on being among trees for the sake of relaxing. Walking and sitting near trees is encouraged. Japan’s 2004 – 2012 study confirmed forest bathing’s healthy physiological and psychological effects.
Trees naturally emit antimicrobial organic compounds called phytoncides to protect themselves from insects and toxic microorganisms. According to the study, when humans inhale phytoncides during forest bathing, they boost the activity of natural killer cells, which enhance the immune system and aid in cancer prevention. Additionally, researchers found that “forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.”
Not surprisingly, forest bathing also has beneficial psychological effects, including a positive impact on thought processes, decreased depression and hostility, and increased energy.
Now, who’s ready for a trip to the woods?