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“Shinrin-yoku”, “forest bathing” in English, may appear a little strange. It signifies taking in a micro-dose of fresh air and nature whilst hiking in woodland for a short period in order to reduce stress, particularly amongst city dwellers! According to this description, there are already a large number of you who get your forest dose over the weekend!
The name was coined in Japan and since 1982, has been supported by the Japanese government via the Forest Agency. This practice was studied by scientists confirming the benefits for the body and for mental health. It is a good way of hiking before heading back to work, relaxing over the weekend and returning with a rested mind for the following week, all in record time. Here are three good reasons to try forest bathing:
Many laboratory and field studies have been completed, amongst which the famous study surrounded by nature by the University of Chiba which monitored 280 participants within 24 forests in Japan. One group walked throughout the city, the other in the forest and the following day, they swapped. The cortisol (stress hormone) levels, blood pressure, pulse and heart rate of each participant was taken in the morning at breakfast, just before heading out (in forest or city), and then just after the walk to then be compared. The results showed that the participants who walked in the forest rather than through the city, had lower cortisol levels, pulse and heart rates. Walking in the forest therefore reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and relaxes the body.
Walking in the forest serves as a very good preventative medicine. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Nippon (Tokyo) Medical School, forest bathing increases body cell activity, improving our immune system. But is this ongoing? According to the same study, the benefits can last up to 7 days. A good reason to recharge every weekend!
Made up of 12.9% forest, and growing, the UK is having more and more wooded land surface. You are sure to find a small forest or wood near you. Regardless of the season, summer or winter, keep warm with the three layer technique". Ensure you look after yourself when hiking. Is it raining? Unless it's a storm, walking in the rain has its advantages! Find out what they are in our article on good reasons to walk in the rain". Are you afraid of getting wet? Discover our tips on keeping dry while hiking.
What about you, does walking in the forest relax you and allow you to recharge your batteries? Tell us in the comments section!