Don’t you want to be less stressed and have a stronger immune system?
As it turns out, spending time in nature isn’t just good for you, it’s great for you.
In fact, there’s a ton of evidence about the health benefits of Japanese “forest bathing.”
So put on your walking shoes (or go barefoot) and reconnect with Mother Earth!
Keep reading to hear what the latest research has to say:
We Aren’t Meant to Spend So Much Time Indoors!
Spending lots of time in nature used to be a normal part of everyday life.
Fast forward to today, and the hustle and bustle of suburbs and cities have taken over.
The fact of the matter is, we’ve lost touch with nature.
Believe it or not, the average American now spends more than 90 percent of their time indoors! (1)
Worst of all, the little time that we spend outdoors is usually in a city!
Ultimately, the sights, sounds, and smells of cities increase stress, not help it.
That’s why city parks are so valuable to the mental health of urban residents.
When it comes down to it, a little greenery can go a long way.
What Is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing means to mindfully spend time in nature.
It is preventive medicine, not a treatment.
When humans spend time in a natural setting, especially a lush forest, it rejuvenates the mind, body, and soul.
But forest bathing isn’t just about going for a walk in nature…
After all, you could be worrying about where your dog ran off to or what’s for dinner.
As you walk down the trail, it’s all about soaking in the natural sights, sounds, and smells.
The scent of pine, the wind on your face, and the sunlight streaming through the trees.
In traditional Japanese forest bathing, a session might last up to three hours.
However, if you only have a quick 20 minutes, that’s okay too!
Just remember to move very slowly, touching the trees and breathing deeply.
By the time you’re done, you’ll feel relaxed, refreshed, and restored.
The History of Forest Bathing
Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, was developed in Japan in the mid-1980s.
In 2004, they even created a new field of medicine called Forest Medicine to study its effects.
Since forests cover 67 percent of Japan’s land, it was easy for most of the country to take part.
Today, Japan recognizes forest bathing as an effective preventative medicine for mental health.
In fact, they even officially added it to the country’s health program.
Recently, interest in forest bathing has started to take off in America and the United Kingdom.
Is it time for you to join the club?
10 Health Benefits of Forest Bathing
Here’s what a 2019 review found about forest bathing’s beneficial effects on human health:
Increase natural killer cells
It May help prevent cancer
Reduce blood pressure
Lower heart rate
Fewer stress hormones
Better hormone balance
The findings suggest that spending time in the forest may help prevent a variety of lifestyle-related diseases. (2)
Next, let’s take a closer look at some of forest bathing’s main benefits:
Mental Health Benefits of Forest Bathing
Spending time in nature reduces stress.
Ultimately, less stress has a domino effect on mood, focus, energy, and all things mental health.
Heck, forest bathing may even help you think more clearly and more creatively.
Gazing at the natural shades of green and blue is relaxing.
At the same time, the sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling can soothe troubled thoughts.
In a 2019 analysis of over 22 different studies on forest bathing, they concluded that:
“Overall, forest bathing can significantly influence cortisol levels in the short term in such a way as to reduce stress.” (3)
Immune System Benefits of Forest Bathing
High-stress levels can weaken the immune system.
Fortunately, forest bathing is proven to reduce stress hormones.
By calming your body’s fight-or-flight response, your immune system has a chance to thrive.
The secret to forest bathing’s immunity benefits is the essential oils in trees.
These compounds, called phytoncides, boost the immune system when inhaled. Smells like strong immunity!
Phytoncides work by promoting natural killer (NK) cells in the body.
As it turns out, NK cells are essential to preventing and fighting disease.
One study found that increased NK activity can last for more than 30 days after a session of forest bathing. Impressive! (4)
Cardiovascular Benefits of Forest Bathing
Spending time in nature might also have powerful effects on heart health.
This is because forest bathing programs can significantly reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
In one recent study, 19 middle-aged men walked in the forest for 80 minutes in the morning and 80 minutes at night, one day a week. (5)
The men experienced lower heart rates and blood pressure.
Plus, they also reported less anxiety, depression, and fatigue throughout the week.
Based on these findings, the study’s authors believe that walking in a forest environment may have powerful benefits for heart health.
If you have any more questions about the health benefits of forest bathing, feel free to reach out to us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.