Top six benefits of Forest Bathing
The Japanese practice of shinrin yoku, or Forest Bathing, is good for both physical and mental wellbeing. It is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness.
1. Reduces your stress
Yoshifumi Miyazaki, a professor at Chiba University in Japan, has been researching the benefits of Forest Bathing since 2004 and has found that leisurely forest walks yield a 12.4 per cent decrease in the stress hormone, cortisol, compared with urban walks. Participants in his studies have also anecdotally reported better moods and lower anxiety.
2. Improves your mood
Academics at Derby University have conducted a meta study of existing research which concludes that connecting to nature can be linked to happiness and mental wellbeing. Spending time in nature releases hormones that relate to the pursuit of joy, connecting to calm and avoiding threats.
3. Frees up your creativity
In one study by David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, participants saw a 50% improvement in creative problem solving after three days immersed in nature with all access to modern technology removed.
4. Boosts your immune system
Trees and plants emit ‘phytoncides’ which we breathe in when we spend time in the forest. These have been proven in studies by Qing Li, a Japanese shinrin yoku researcher, to enhance the activity of Natural Killer cells that help our bodies to fight disease.
5. Reduces high blood pressure
Forest Bathing has been proven to reduce blood pressure, a crucial factor in maintaining a healthy heart. A recent meta study in Japan reviewed 20 trials, involving 732 participants, which demonstrated that blood pressure levels in the forest environment were significantly lower than those in the non-forest environment.
6. Accelerates your recovery from illness
Nature can be a powerful catalyst in the recovery process. The most well-known study in this area by Dr Roger Ulrich, an architect specialising in healthcare building design, showed that even a natural view from a window reduced convalescence time by a day, compared to an urban view.