It’s that time of year. The clocks are springing forward on Sunday, the days are getting longer, and it’s finally starting to warm up a bit.
I’ve been hibernating a bit too much this winter. I feel like I’ve become a bit of an indoor enthusiast. It’s officially time to stop Nexflix binging and get outside. I found a concept from Japan that I want to try out on Sunday.
It’s called Forest Bathing. I know, right? I rolled my eyes the first time I heard it, too.
But let me break down its major points and now science is catching up to the practice.
From an article on qz.com “Forest bathing—basically just being in the presence of trees—became part of a national public health program in Japan in 1982 when the forestry ministry coined the phrase shinrin-yoku…Just be with trees. No hiking, no counting steps on a Fitbit. You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything.”
That last bit is so out of character with Western culture. Just think about it, when I say picture yourself in the forest this weekend, most people will conjure images of trail running, or rock climbing, or a swift walk with the dog. Almost nobody would think of just hanging out with the trees.
Since I tend to not be a very woo woo person, let’s see what the science says.
In an 8-year study ending in 2012, Japanese scientists found a boost in immune cells after forest bathing. The theory surrounds an essential oil secreted by trees called phytoncide. So that sensation of cleaner, fresher air in the woods is actually a thing. Inhaling this essential oil seems to actually boost the human immune system.
Another study in Japan concluded that Forest Bathing promotes “lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, (and) lower blood pressure… than do city environments.”
So if you are already planning on getting outside this weekend, mix in some Forest Bathing and see how that feels.
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