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Forest Bathing: The Health Benefits of Connecting with Nature



Seek out nature.


A recent scientific review concluded that systematic forest exposure - a practice called “forest bathing” - offers genuine health benefits.

(No actual bathing is involved unless you get caught in a rainfall).

The researchers report that forest bathing may temporarily lower stress hormone levels, heart rate, and blood pressure, and improve sleep quality.

According to the scientists, forest bathing is a meditative practice that includes walking at a “non-tiring pace” with stops to do breathing exercises and contemplate nature.


Sessions usually last two to four hours and are supervised by a trained guide, say the researchers.

Obviously, that doesn’t sound all that practical for many of us - at least not as a regular activity.


But, like so many health and fitness practices, it’s not all-or-nothing.

Based on the scientists’ analysis, the minimal effective dose is 10 to 30 minutes for a single session of sitting or walking in the woods. Longer exposures are linked to stronger and longer-lasting effects.

Plus, “forest bathing” just sounds delightful, doesn’t it?

Of course, you might wonder: Doesn’t a nice walk around the neighbourhood or a city park offer many of the same benefits? Probably, but they may each offer unique bonuses as well.

Mainly:

Moving? Good.

Getting outside? Good.

Taking time for yourself? Good.

So, do more of that, as well as you are able to.

 

Reference:


Antonelli M, Donelli D, Carlone L, Maggini V, Firenzuoli F, Bedeschi E. Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on individual well-being: an umbrella review. Int J Environ Health Res. 2021 Apr 28;1–26. PMID: 33910423

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