Benefits of Forest Bathing and Taking a Walk in the Woods
One can easily enough imagine a walk in the woods as peaceful and promoting a feeling of well-being. The Japanese, having acknowledged the therapeutic benefits of such time, even have a word for it – Shinrin-Yoku – forest bathing.
Immersing oneself in nature is such an inherently wise idea for those of us who are in urban or suburban dwellers. The benefits of forest bathing are more than psychological, more than simply being lovely and restful.
Trees and other plants give off phytoncides, antimicrobial substances that protect them from bacteria, fungi and insects. We breathe these in while we walk among the trees, and they protect us as well. Studies have shown that NK cells (natural killer, a type of white blood cells) and other biological immune indicators increase after periods spent in the woods. A more recent study even employed the vaporized phytoncides in a hotel room with similar effect. Homeopathic medicine and aromatherapy have been using similar substances for ages, so many would not be surprised to learn of this scientific proof.
Be a Good Steward of the Forest
It feels good to know that the human body is so fundamentally connected to the ecology of the plant world, other than just through eating them. A walk in the woods satisfies our entire self: body, mind, and spirit. This is one more reason for us to serve as grateful and graceful stewards of our forests and other natural spaces.