The term might seem a little silly, but Forest Bathing is an activity that is very close to perfect for just about everyone. Called Shinrin-Yoku in Japanese and Sanlimyok in Korean, Forest Bathing is a brief, leisurely walk in a forest. This activity is peaceful, easy to do, and actually carries a plethora of health benefits.
So, you may be asking yourself how could a little walk in the woods be super healthy and life-changing. Well, it has to with the trees themselves. A lot of plants and trees give off something called Phytoncides. This is the plants’ way of protecting itself from other plants and animals, so it can live and grow. You know when you cut into an onion and get that sharp smell? That’s a phytoncide.
The phytoncides from trees like pines, oaks, and cedars are really beneficial to humans. Phytoncides can boast all kinds of health benefits in humans like reduced blood pressure, reduced stress, increase in Natural Killer (NK) cells (these are the cells that protect us from things like cancer), and more.
There has been many, many studies done in Japan and Korea and all of them boast measurable benefits in the subjects that had participated. One specific study called ‘Relationships Between Percentage of Forest Coverage and Standardized Morality Rations (SMR) of Cancers in all Prefectures in Japan” by Qing Li, Maiko Kobayashi, and Tomoyuki Kawada found that people living with lower forest coverage had significantly higher SMR of cancers than those that had higher forest coverage. A lot to soak in, I know, but right there they are proving that the Phytoncides from trees are helping us beat cancer.
But wait, there’s more! The simple earthy and citrus fragrance found in forests affects the endocrine and immune systems in humans. This means it helps us stay happy, helps with our ability to focus, helps us fight obesity. It simply makes us just better.
All of these studies and results has made Forest Bathing a very popular activity in Japan. They have over 44 accredited Shinrin-Yoku forests.
Now, you do not need to be in Japan or Korea to experience the benefits of Forest Bathing. Any forest, in truth, will do. But there is more to do than simply find a forest, stand in it, and then become a better person. Movement is important. Walk around. You don’t need to run or jog, but be moving. Allow yourself to take big breaths. Soak in the sun. Enjoy yourself.
Once you start Forest Bathing you, just like everyone else, will start to experience the benefits. You’ll simply feel healthier. You’ll be more calm. You’ll feel more centered, aligned, and happy. Plus, you get the benefit of being outdoors with nothing more to do than to relax and breathe.