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"In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it."

Goethe

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the benefits
of shinrin-yoku

This is nothing new - we have always known this intuitively - spending time in nature is extremely good for you!

 

Forest Bathing or Forest Therapy in its current practice is inspired by the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. This evidence-based health practice has had considerable scientific research and evaluations conducted, highlighting the direct and indirect health benefits, as well as emotional and social benefits. These include:

direct benefits
  • reduction in blood pressure and heart rate

  • reduced cortisol levels – this is your stress hormone

  • increased happiness and positive mood

  • a surge in the activity of your natural killer cells – these are the inbuilt antitumor cells inside our own bodies. This practice can increase both the number of cells and their activity

  • exposure to phytoncides – these are the natural chemicals that trees release. As trees don’t really have immune systems like us, they release natural chemicals into the forest to protect themselves. Some of these volatile organic compounds we know as the components of essential oils, such as pinene, limonene, and other terpenes.
    They have antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects.

 

indirect benefits
  • increased overall fitness levels

  • improved immune system function

  • weight management assistance and reduced risk of obesity

  • reduced risk of heart and lung diseases

  • reduced impact of anxiety and depression

  • less likelihood of feeling stressed in typical day-to-day situations

  • better and more regular sleep

  • more positive mood and motivation and less potential for mood-swings

  • enhanced ability to concentrate

  • enhanced energy levels and better concentration

  • increased self-confidence and emotional stability/resilience


If you think it all sounds too good to be true, why not give it a go yourself?

Here's some more detailed information about the health benefits of Forest Therapy!

Forest therapy, also known as Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing, is a practice that involves spending time in nature and immersing oneself in the forest atmosphere. There is growing evidence that forest therapy can have positive effects on human health and well-being.

 

Studies have shown that forest therapy can reduce cortisol levels, a stress hormone. Another study found that forest therapy had a positive impact on blood pressure and adiponectin, a protein that helps regulate blood sugar levels. In addition to these physiological benefits, forest therapy has been shown to have mental health benefits as well. For example, it can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

 

Forest therapy can also improve cognitive function and creativity. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah found that spending time in nature can improve cognitive function and creativity by as much as 50%. 

 

According to a recent study in the United Kingdom of nearly 20,000 people, spending at least **120 minutes a week in nature** improved self-reported health and well-being¹. 

 

In terms of indirect health benefits, forest therapy can help to promote physical activity and social interaction. It provides opportunities for physical activity such as walking or hiking, which can help to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Forest therapy also provides opportunities for social interaction with others who share similar interests in nature and outdoor activities.

 

Furthermore, forest therapy can help to improve sleep quality by reducing stress levels and promoting relaxation. It can also help to boost the immune system by increasing natural killer cell activity and enhancing immune function. Forest therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body as well.

 

Overall, forest therapy has been shown to have numerous health benefits both directly and indirectly. It can help to improve mood, increase feelings of happiness, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve concentration and focus, promote physical activity and social interaction, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation in the body, and improve sleep quality.


 

Additional references

 

- Cleveland Clinic. (2020, May 6). Why forest therapy can be good for your body and mind. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-forest-therapy-can-be-good-for-your-body-and-mind/

- Lee, J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Takayama, N., Park, B.-J., Li, Q., & Song, C. (2018). Effect of forest bathing on physiological and psychological responses in young Japanese male subjects. Public Health, 159, 38–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2018.02.016

- Li, Q., Kobayashi, M., Wakayama, Y., Inagaki, H., Katsumata, M., Hirata, Y., & Hirata, K. (2011). Effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, 24(2), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1177/039463201102400201 

- Li, Q., Morimoto, K., Kobayashi, M., Inagaki, H., Katsumata, M., Hirata, Y., & Hirata, K. (2008). Visiting a forest, but not a city, increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, 21(1), 117–127. https://doi.org/10.1177/039463200802100113

- Liang, R.-H., & Tsaihong John Lin. (2015). Effects of forest bathing on physiological and psychological responses in young Japanese male subjects. Public Health Research & Practice, 25(4), e2541543–e2541543. https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp2541543

- Park BJ et al. (2010). The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine;15(1):18-26.

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