Take A Bath… In A Forest: The Art of Shinrin-Yoku

Don’t worry, this bath won’t involve your taking your clothes off in the middle of the forest!

Forest Bathing (or Shinrin-Yoku) is a fairly recent Japanese pastime being also discovered by the Western World. 

What Is Shinrin-Yoku?

All it is, is walking amidst nature in order to benefit from all the airborne chemicals released by plants.

Plants have been found to emit phytoncides that stop them from rotting and being attacked by insects. These phytoncides also have a very beneficial effect on human beings.

Many studies have been conducted about the benefits of walking in forests (and its use as a preventative medicine) in the last decade in Japan and other Western countries (particularly Finland).

What the Experts Say About The Therapeutic Effects of Forests

The Finnish Forest Research Institute, the Japanese Association of Therapeutic Effects of Forests and the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine all agree that Forest Bathing can reduce stress and depression, decrease blood pressure and pulse rate, ease muscle tension, even increase parts of the immune system fighting cancer.

Different Forests Have Different Results

Different forests would achieve different results depending on the illumination, the humidity, the atmospheric pressure, the tree density and types of trees (the low relative illumination reduces anger; the low relative humidity lowers fatigue; forests located at high elevations with low atmospheric pressure can reduce depression; Japanese cedar, cypress, beech and oak are particularly effective in increasing the activity of people’s natural killer cells).

One thing is sure though, forests all achieve better results than walking in city surroundings.

So What Are You Waiting For?

Next time you have the opportunity to go to a forest, practice a bit of Shinrin-Yoku: start by spending a few minutes looking around you in a spot you like, then walk for 2 to 4 kilometers at a gentle pace. Don’t make it arduous but make a point to really enjoy the experience through all your senses. Look around, look up. Don’t bring your ipod but rather listen to the forest sounds and murmurs, to the birds tweeting. Touch the trees. Smell the forest and its essences. Rest if you get tired. Drink water if you feel thirsty. Take it easy and make it a nice moment.

All the health benefits we talked about earlier will stay with you for a few days after your walk.

Then … please do share your experience in the comments below!


Comments

Take A Bath… In A Forest: The Art of Shinrin-Yoku — 8 Comments

    • Yup – just punch in ‘shinrin-yoku’ in Google and you’ll see ;-)

      Isabelle’s the real expert on this but the point I think is, outdoors is great, hiking is wonderful, but do so in a forest and you get these added benefits (as described above),

      This has gotten me thinking, I really like mountain hiking too, I wonder if there is a mountain equivalent to this, like ‘Fuji-yoku’ or something ;-) we’ll have to do some more research on that one…

  1. And here I have been all this time thinking that I just liked the beauty of the trees and plants so that made me feel better. Why did you have to add science to the mix? Messed it all up.

    Just kidding. How very interesting. This almost proves that we are one with nature. People forget that we are natural beings also, if you strip down the cell phones, cars, concrete and Starbucks we can actually enjoy what has been given to us for millions of years now.

    ~Allie
    Allie recently posted…7 Things That Scared Me Last Week While I Was Stalking on the InternetMy Profile

    • How I agree! Back to nature!!!
      Personally, I’d always preferred walking in open spaces rather than forests where I felt more enclosed but, since discovering shinrin-yoku and getting a dog who absolutely loves hopping in ferns under the trees, I started walking in forests. I love the color the leaves take when the sun goes through them. I breathe deeply… wouldn’t want to miss the phytoncides!

  2. This is a great bit of inspiration. I’ve always loved walking through our local forests and taking in the nature and solace but I never had such a good excuse to tell others why I’m doing it. Now I can just tell people I’m practicing, “Shinrin-Yoku!” I also really like the information you added from the Forest Research Institute.
    Joel recently posted…Forester Careers & Jobs Information [Video]My Profile

    • Thank you very much, Joel, for your comment.
      It’s nice to be able to give a name to something we like. I’m with you on that.
      Just had a quick look at your website about Green power and sustainability and I really like it. I notice that tidal power is not on your list. I learnt about it at school (a few decade ago…) in France and I thought the idea was so clever I’m surprised that it hasn’t been developed more. Maybe you know why?
      Best wishes
      Isabelle
      Alan recently posted…Don’t Like Exercising? Then Just Walk – It’s The Best Form of Exercise Anyway!My Profile

    • Thank you very much, Joel, for your comment.
      It’s nice to be able to give a name to something we like. I’m with you on that.
      Just had a quick look at your website about Green power and sustainability and I really like it. I notice that tidal power is not on your list. I learnt about it at school (a few decade ago…) in France and I thought the idea was so clever I’m surprised that it hasn’t been developed more. Maybe you know why?
      Best wishes
      Isabelle

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