The Benefits of Forest Bathing
So this past weekend, I took my son camping for the very first time. Talk about a change of scenery, kiddo (like many teens) is glued to either his cell phone, computer (or both) almost every minute of every day.
Now, I’m all for technology — but we have lost something of immense value in the bargain – the benefits of the natural world. Turning our back on forests and oceans in favor of concrete, steel and cell phones has caused obvious harm – and returning to it has had obvious benefits.
I instinctively knew there was something to this, given how the great Russian Olympic and world champion Vasilly Alexeev trained. One of his most unusual training techniques for example, was to practice cleans with a barbell – in the waist-deep water of the Don River in Russia.
The wife and I also noticed a profound sense of well being after our first few camping trips, and noteworthy – it dramatically improved her sleep. In fact, we no sooner get home than can’t wait for our next trip. This, coming from a guy who never camped or hunted in his life until just recently.
Hunters (and other outdoorsmen) have known about these benefits for thousands of years. Something has to explain getting up that early to be in a tree stand before sunrise LOL. Actually, lots of things. Right down to the quality of “free range” deer meat (venison), as well as wild salmon etc. vs. the same from your local supermarket – it just isn’t the same.
Our supplements leave clues as well. Herbs are nature’s medicine cabinet (and drugs derived from them, like white willow bark). We were (arguably) better off from a health and longevity perspective when using them, vs. Rx drugs.
To say this was the tip of the iceberg though is quite the understatement, as the benefits of “forest bathing” keep piling up. Consider for example, the following:
· Just 2 hours a week (24 minutes a day) is the optimal amount of time to spend in nature to realize the following health benefits.
· Improves immune function. Like, a LOT: How much ?
· One study showed that ONE trip to the forest created a month’s worth of immune system improvement.
· It seems that inhaling the forests natural aromatherapy (largely oils, from various trees), plays a big part in that
· A newer study showed improved mood, increased oxygen levels, lower blood pressure, and again – a huge increase in immune function.
· A recent meta-analysis also showed the impact of forest bathing on every one of our 5 senses.
· They studied each separately: Touch, Sound, Sight, Smell, and Taste and found time spent in the natural world improved all of them.
· The NK cells (natural killer) that forest bathing produces not only improve immune function, they also make anti-cancer proteins
· Other studies have shown improved working memory, reduced levels of stress, less depression and a big boost in cognitive function.
· Even just viewing a natural landscape from a hospital window has been shown to help patients recover faster from surgery.
· Another study showed that the more vegetation inner city occupants were exposed to, the lower their levels of crime, aggression, and overall criminal activity.
· Personally speaking, I’m convinced increased road rage is at least in part – attributable to too much technology and not enough time spent in natural settings.
· Multiple studies also show that forest bathing reduces cortisol levels, lowers pulse rate, lowers blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activation, and less sympathetic nerve activation.
Forest Bathing Reduces Anxiety and Stress
In other words, forest bathing reduces all the symptoms of anxiety and stress.
It’s the perfect antidote, to many of the physical and mental problems associated with more and more technology creeping into our lives.
This topic really intrigues me, as the cost to benefit ratio is outstanding. I mean, all of these benefits are basically free. You don’t have to necessarily buy a tent, backpack or a bunch of camping equipment, to get the whole “forest bathing” experience (although I think that’s a great next step).
A simple walk in your local park or the woods for a measly 2 hours a week is all it takes. Looking at it from another perspective (my previous career in insurance), time spent outdoors has the potential to save the world trillions of dollars in medical expenses.
Literally, TRILLIONS. And considering what it does for your immune system, it might very well save lives too. It would damn sure have been a better course of action vs. mandatory lockdowns, vaccines and face diapers IMO. Which is another topic for another time.
To Sum It All Up
I would HIGHLY encourage you to spend more time in the natural world. Nature has given us so much, having made all the locks – it also holds all the keys. Please avail yourself to everything that it has to offer, and make sure to “leave no trace behind.”
If you do, I’m confident that you too, will notice at least some of the profound benefits that “forest bathing” has to offer. And they manifest rather quickly.
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