Are you looking for new ways to boost your immune system this year? Try doing as the Japanese do and go forest bathing. What is forest bathing or forest therapy, you ask? Simply immersing yourself in the woods. Take a hike, have a picnic, go bird watching; just spend some time in the woods!
It seems that in addition to reducing stress levels, forest therapy or forest bathing actually boosts your immunity. In fact, the benefits are many-fold: reduced cortisol levels, blood pressure, pulse rate and stress, and increased immunity. The studies done prove that forest bathing actually increases the number of killer cells in the blood (which strengthen immunity). It is thought that the reason for this has to do with essential oils, called phytoncides from the trees, which are in the air. It is really aromatherapy in the purest form.
This particularly appeals to me because I love hiking (I also love aromatherapy). It is one of my favorite past times, partly because I feel great when I am in the “great outdoors”. So, when I recently read an article about forest therapy, I was not surprised that research has been done and it turns out there are proven health benefits from being in the woods. I like the fact that something I find so beneficial both mentally and physically myself now has some cold, hard scientific evidence to back up what I have experienced.
Forest bathing or forest therapy (shinrin-yoku in Japanese, defined as “taking in the forest atmosphere”) has become quite popular in Japan. There are now official forest bathing sites and corporations are adding it to their healthcare plans as preventative therapy. I think the Japanese are on to something here. They are incorporating something that myself and other nature lovers have known for a long time to be healthy mentally and physically into mainstream medicine…. spending time in the woods!
So, if you are looking for a relaxing, rejuvenating way to achieve better health, why not take a long walk in the woods, breath deeply of the fresh air and relax.