forest-bathing

The Health Benefits of Forest Bathing

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The healing effects of nature.

 Forest bathing is a wellbeing movement that’s taking over the world! You can now relax, link with nature, and improve your health with the scientifically proven assistance of forest bathing. In search of a way to slow down?

How about feeling the sights, hums, and sensation of a forest, taking it all in for its healing benefits? Sounds good, right? That’s where forest bathing comes in. It isn’t about soaping up, as some people might think.

Still, it can offer comfort as a relaxing bubble bath does. The concept has quickly garnered approval in America, and you can even get an expert forest therapist.

What exactly is forest bathing?

Forest bathing is a method by which you can unwind and feel nature around you to improve your wellbeing. Simply explained: it involves going out into the natural world and immersing in the forest’s ecosystem.

The term arose from Japan during the late 1980s and was invented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. Known as “Shinrin-yoku,” it roughly translates to “forest bathing.”

Most people envision a sweaty excursion when they think about taking a trip to a forest. However, forest bathing is done at a leisurely stride and focuses on solely experiencing the natural habitat around you. It has nothing to do with reaching a distance goal, increasing your heart rate, or even about physical activity.

Then what are health benefits of forest bathing?

So why do people practice forest bathing? Well, because it has a ton of health benefits, including:

Creating the body’s killer cells

Your body has a natural killer, known as the NK cell. This group of cells does wonders for your immunity. They selectively look for and kill cancerous cells, bacteria, and other pathogens in our bodies, all without destroying any normal healthy cells in the process.

A Japanese study found that people showed a whopping 50% increase in their NK cell activity following a three-day trip in a forest. Not only that, but it also multiplies their number and allows them to stay in the body for a more extended period. So, forest bathing has been scientifically proven to boost immunity, reduce cancer risk, and improve recovery time.

Reducing the chances of a heart attack

Studies show that forest bathing can significantly minimize blood pressure, pulse rate, anxiety, and stress. One trip into the woods can also elevate the body’s adiponectin level. This is an anti-inflammatory chemical that works on the cells in our blood vessels to protect them from the risk of a heart attack.

Preventing obesity and diabetes

More adiponectin also minimizes the danger of obesity and insulin disorders. The chemical is produced by fat cells to regulate fat and glucose metabolism to maintain a healthy weight. Forest bathing also keeps glucose levels low in the body in diabetic patients. Patients who walked for several months over a 6-year period showed improved glucose levels.

Providing better sleep and more energy

Anyone who hikes or camps knows the revitalizing experience you get when you breathe in a natural habitat. That’s not just your mind playing tricks on you. Forest bathing is known to provide more vigor as well as combat fatigue.

Simultaneously, it produces hormones and triggers processes in the body that help promote better sleep. It can also limit cortisol and dopamine in the body, which conversely reduces stress levels and keeps both the body and mind calm.

Improving our mood

Research shows that depression, anxiety, and states of confusion can be significantly improved following a forest bathing experience. They compared the mood profiles of a group of forest bathers and those of people who walked through an urban setting.

While both groups had their health benefits because of exercising, the forest bathing participants showed more mood improvement. This shows that forest bathing has a direct impact on stabilizing and improving our mood.

Reducing inflammation

The air in a forest is naturally fresher than that in a big city, or even other natural habitats like parks or lakes. This is because they have more trees that take in more carbon dioxide and give out more oxygen. Not only does that make the air fresher, but the trees then also produce natural compounds that can reduce inflammation in our bodies.

D-limonene can be found in the forest air and is known to minimize lung inflammation. People with breathing issues such as asthma or COPD feel healthier and less symptomatic following a forest breathing session because of this chemical.

Clear and Healthy Skin

Inflammation is the precursor to many problems of the body, such as some skin disorders. People with eczema or psoriasis can notice some improvements in their skin following forest bathing. Terpenes are anti-inflammatory products released by trees into the forest atmosphere by cone trees such as cypress, pine, and fir.

Relieving sore muscles

There are several terpene compounds, and they have a wide range of benefits on the body. Osteoarthritic relief, less joint pain, reduced inflammation, and minimized back and neck pain are known benefits.

A study was conducted on two forest bathing groups, having people with neck pain. Both groups experienced less pain, reduced inflammation, and a better range of motion following their forest bathing.

Producing terpenes for body health

Various terpenes are known to be combative against irritation in the liver, pancreas, and brain, all vital organs that need to stay healthy for us to live. One such chemical, borneol, defends the brain and central nervous system. It can reduce the risk of degenerative diseases caused by inflammation, such as Alzheimer’s.

Like we said before, forest bathing can help protect the body from cancerous growths, and that’s because of the terpene chemical D-limonene. This substance works as an anti-tumor chemical. Research shows it works against various cancers, like those in the breast or colon.

Final Thoughts

The human species has naturally reaped the benefits of communicating with nature for centuries. Nowadays, this activity has transformed into an increasingly prevalent trend known as forest bathing. That said, this trend doesn’t appear to be leaving any time soon.

 

Sources:

Forest bathing helps boost immunity

The effects of forest bathing on heart health

Forest bathing as a tool for mental health and mood disorders

Improvement of neck pain in forest bathers

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5369157/

 

 

 

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