Japanese Forest Bathing: Here’s everything about the life changing practice that improves health

Pinkvilla, Mumbai – 22 april 2020

Japanese Forest Bathing: After knowing the health benefits of forest bathing, you will soon start practicing the same. Written By Pinkvilla Desk 62119 reads Mumbai Updated: April 22, 2020 08:59 pm Japanese Forest Bathing: Here’s everything about the life-changing practice that improves health.

Did you know spending time in the woods can help your physical and mental well being? We do feel fresh and have a better mood when we are in natural and scenic places. But many don’t know that there are scientifically proven health benefits of it. Yes, being around trees can lower your blood pressure, heart rate, improve the immune system and decrease stress hormones among others and the effect is for good long days. Today we are talking about the Japanese forest bathing and how it can improve your overall health. Being around trees, nature appreciation and picnicking in the forest is the national past time in Japan. For the unversed, Japan had launched a national heath public program called Shinrin-yoku in the 80s.

The term Shinrin-yoku means spending more time around trees and they have been promoting topiary as therapy and have been studying the physiological and psychological effects on humans. In this Japanese method of forest bathing, you don’t have to jog or workout, just being in the presence of trees will do the magic. In Japan, there are several forests recognised by the Japanese government as a forest bathing facility. In these facilities, you can walk or hike. 

Japanese Forest bathing health benefits:

Forest bathing is preventative healthcare in Japan as it provides several health benefits such as:
Better sleep quality.
Better mood and ability to focus.
Reduced stress levels.
Can aid in physiological problems, like high blood pressure, muscle tension.
Better immune response.

Studies have proved its benefits

The Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences in Japan’s Chiba University studied forest bathing’s physiological effects on 280 subjects in their early 20s. 

The studied subjects’ salivary cortisol (which increases with stress), blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate variability throughout their day in the city.

They compared the data to the biometrics taken after the subjects’ 30-minute forest visit.

The study deduced, “Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.”

As per another study, subjects after natural trail showed reduced hostility and depression and increased liveliness. 

Dr. Qing Li, MD, the author of Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, had stated how we live 93 percent of the time indoors.

He thinks that nature-deficit disorder leads to negative feelings about life. He believes that the same can be significantly improved by doing forest bathing.

How it helps to improve the immune system?

Dr. Qing Li, who is also a professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, studied the activity of human natural killer cells in the immune system before and after people’s exposure to the woods. He witnessed cells rapid increase and improved response to viral-infected cells. 

The same could be due to phytoncides that trees emit. For the unversed, trees emit oils to protect themselves from germs and insects and these oils can improve our immune system.

How to do forest bathing?

After reaching any park or forest, ideally, you should leave behind or not use the devices such as phones and cameras.

Try to walk slowly and aimlessly in the woods. Enjoy the sounds, smells, and sights of the trees. The idea is to use all the five senses of our body.

You can also lie on the ground and enjoy the sense of calmness and tranquility.

Aside from walking, you can also indulge in other relaxing activities such as yoga, hot-spring therapy, meditation, breathing exercises, aromatherapy, art classes, and plant/bird observation among others.

From a kid to an old person, anybody can utilise the advantages of Shinrin-yoku.

For the unversed, many forest-therapy programs include guided walks. Doctors offer general health assessments as well. As soon as you arrive in a forest in Japan, you will be given a physical health check and a psychological questionnaire.

The therapist will also help with the best walking plan which will suit you.

So, yes forest environments are therapeutic for us, especially for city dwellers.  And if you are looking for an antidote to hectic city life then you now know the answer.

What are your views on the same? Will you for a forest bath after lockdown? Let us know in the comments section below.