Saturday, January 11, 2014

Forest Bathing aka Shinrin-yoku


I've always taken my two dogs for long walks through the forests. There are endless logging roads where I live, and it's also possible to walk along the power lines forever. 

But lately I've been going for two to three-hour walks on my own every other day. I read a few articles on Shinrin-yoku, Japanese for a practice called forest bathing, that kind of spurred me on. Studies show that walking or just enjoying time in the forest reduces stress and increases your immunity. Apparently walking in the forest increases the activity of our natural killer (NK) cells, which are components of our immune systems that fight cancer. It is speculated that breathing in air containing antimicrobial wood essential oils that protect trees from rot and insects could be responsible for the positive effect on our health.

No, I don't have cancer but like everybody else, I deal with stress. And all I know is, I feel amazing after a walk in the woods. Sometimes I'm lost in thought and come up with creative ideas, but other times I try to stay in the now and take everything in...the sounds, the smells, the way a tree feels (yes, I've been known to hug a few trees!) I've even made my peace with the almost constant rain we get here in the Pacific Northwest. Rain used to kind of depress me and I'd avoid walking in it when I could. Now I've embraced it because let's face it, it's almost always raining in the winter here! Now I find a walk in the rain refreshes me.

I recommend you give it a try and maybe even make forest bathing a regular practice. Here's an article about Shinrin-yoku and some of the studies that have been done.
breathing in air containing phytoncide (wood essential oils) like α-pinene and limonene, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects. - See more at: http://www.hphpcentral.com/article/forest-bathing#sthash.jQIFIq1y.dpuf
NK activity partly to breathing in air containing phytoncide (wood essential oils) like α-pinene and limonene, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects. - See more at: http://www.hphpcentral.com/article/forest-bathing#sthash.jQIFIq1y.dpuf
Dr Li attributes the increase in NK activity partly to breathing in air containing phytoncide (wood essential oils) like α-pinene and limonene, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects. - See more at: http://www.hphpcentral.com/article/forest-bathing#sthash.jQIFIq1y.dpuf
Dr Li attributes the increase in NK activity partly to breathing in air containing phytoncide (wood essential oils) like α-pinene and limonene, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects. - See more at: http://www.hphpcentral.com/article/forest-bathing#sthash.jQIFIq1y.dpuf

forest bathing art

2 comments:

  1. This is fascinating info, Peggy! Wish I weren't so city-bound.

    Maybe someday . . .

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hopefully you at least have some parks around you, Wendy. I actually have to drive a bit of a distance to get to my preferred hiking spots. Otherwise it would mean walking along the highway, which I'm just not into.

    ReplyDelete

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