Over the past while, you may have heard the enticing term “Forest Bathing”. It comes from the Japanese Shinrin-yoku, or the practice of immersing yourself in the healing properties of natural, wooded environments. It is the medicine of simply being in the forest.
Many of us on the West Coast, and particularly the North Shore, take advantage of the forest at our doorstep. But now Forest Bathing is considered a top health trend in North America.
Backed by scientific research, here are a few remarkable health benefits of spending time in the woods:
Good for the body
There’s powerful evidence that forests are medicine for our bodies. Proven advantages of forest bathing include lowered heart rates, stress levels, blood pressure and more.
While walking is good exercise overall, there is something therapeutic about doing it in natural surroundings. Studies even suggest that exposure to tree chemicals and oils may boost our immune systems. And in fact, tree bathing is considered a form of healing and preventative medicine in some parts of the world.
Beneficial for the brain
Other research concludes that spending time in natural environments also improves our mood, memory and overall sense of happiness and vitality.
In a natural setting, you engage your senses- sight, hearing, touch, smell. Plus, you’re more connected to the environment, relaxed and reflective. This absorption in nature influences our brains and positively impacts our mental health.
We live in a culture where we spend much of our time in the home, in the car or at the office. And even when we’re outside, we’re checking things like the map app, social media and our text messages.
But by spending time in the woods, or even just sitting in greenspace for a brief respite, we can achieve a greater sense of well-being in our lives.
Embrace the trend- go soak up some nature!
Explore trails and pathways on the North Shore with North Vancouver Recreation & Culture. Visit our Trail Trekkers page to learn more.