In Japan, it’s called Shinrin-Yoku. The act of “forest bathing” may have started there, but people around the world are starting to see the benefits of not just spending time in nature, but doing so intentionally (and, importantly, not through the lens of a smartphone).
Forest bathing studies have been shown to have measurable beneficial effects. Much of this research has been conducted by Dr. Qing Li, physician and immunologist at Nippon Medical School Hospital in Tokyo. In his studies, participants are not asked to jog or even kike, but merely practice awareness while out in the woods.
His studies have found forest bathing can decrease stress and blood pressure, slow the heart rate, speed up digestion, help with insomnia, and reduce fatigue. Perhaps more surprisingly are its effects on immunity, particularly NK (or natural killer) cells, which play a role in helping the body fight off the growth of cancerous cells.
Trees release volatile organic compounds known as phytoncides. When we breathe these in, we get more of these beneficial effects.
So next time you find yourself in nature, take a mindful walk, listen to the sounds, notice the colors and textures, and breathe deep amongst the trees. – WTF fun facts