Monday, January 20, 2020

‘Forest Bathing’

   
  While our President is busy ruining our national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges etc., scientists are finding new evidence every day of the benefits of spending time in nature.  





  



 In Japan, “forest bathing”, (a fancy name for walking 
in the woods) is popular, with walkers enjoying being enveloped in the natural air emitted by the forest.  When breathed in, the emissions raise levels of Natural Killer cells (NK cells) in the human body.  NKs are Good Guys that boost the immune system, fighting tumors and infections.  
Just by breathing them in!  

  It may sound woo-woo, but there is plenty of evidence for the benefits of taking in some fresh country air.  In a paper citing 26 research scientists’ work —you can read it here: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/7/eaax0903  
—the findings and recommendations for nature’s impact on mental health are also profound.  




  In one interesting study, essential oils from cedar trees (one of my favorite scents!) were released in a room where people were sleeping.  Their NK cells were measured and found to reach a significant spike as the oils spread through the room.  





  A Stanford University study claims 2/3 of humanity will live in a city by the year 2050, and another study found that already 86% of the U.S. population is not within 10 minutes of a park or green space.  No whiffs of tumor-reducing, immune-building, mental health-making NKs just around the corner for them!  


 I’m intrigued with these studies because I have always felt pleasant energy around big trees, in deep forests and other natural spaces. I crave it, I need it!  
  I’m reading a new book, The Nature Fix, Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, by Florence Williams, recommended as “highly informative and surprisingly entertaining”.  Here’s the description from Amazon in case you are interested in reading it.  

  “From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.”



  So if you are feeling a cold coming on, if you want to get a free dose of cancer-fighting NKs, or if you are feeling depressed by what is happening in the world ...

   I say head outside for a walk in nature and see if you don’t feel better!  
  










19 comments:

  1. I don't know how anyone could dispute the healing effects of walking in the woods, and yet there is plenty of evidence that some people in power couldn't give a flying fig about protecting our parks and other places with natural elements that heal our body and souls.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree completely, let nature be your medicine chest! Wonderful post!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for this reminder. We haven't gone out to a forest in a long, long time. I shall have to mention it to my husband and make time to do it. We're pretty far from a forest though.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have heard this too from the author Ned Tillman who lives around here and leas walks frequently. He took our book club on a walk one time.
    Glad to hear you are able to walk again!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Those of us who have spent our whole lives in nature have not the slightest difficulty accepting this. Without anyone developing a theory we always knew it was true.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting but if this was the case as you state -
    "if you are feeling depressed by what is happening in the world ."
    shouldn't that result in all decent Yanks taking to the woods?
    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  7. Too much snow to walk very far into the woods here! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I guess that is why I chose to live in a rural part of Maine and have acres woods surrounding us. All I know is that when we go to the larger towns and cities I feel cramped and don't feel comfortable again until I get back to my little woods again. I would love to believe that the choices I made all those years ago, have helped us stay healthier than we would have been if we had chosen to live in a large metro area.

    ReplyDelete
  9. With all the different chemicals used in our house it's toxic. so getting out for long periods of time is very beneficial.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I absolutely have to have forests and trees. I have ordered this book from the library. It should be interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hope you knee has improved and you are doing ok with it..
    Fresh air in the bush, nothing like a good walk in the bush - it's peaceful, healthy. Used to do it years ago, but not now as can't walk too far at all.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I haven't needed science to tell me how good walking is for my mental health wellbeing. Love the phrase'forest bathing'.

    ReplyDelete
  13. A walk in nature is always very good and I am lucky to have a lot of nature here around where I live.

    ReplyDelete
  14. A good walk is a great medicine for most ailments.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh, too much time inside makes me feel bad. One day last week I got my coat and said to Poppy, "I'm going to rake leaves for an hour or two and cheer up". And I did. It's got to be healthy. Hope your knee pain is gone.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dear Cynthia, thank you so very much for this posting and the book recommendation. I will check to see if our library has it as an e-book (all I can read now). If not, I'll recommend it to them. For about 20 years up in Stillwater, I went to a nearby cemetery to walk 3-4 miles each day. The cemetery was an old one (founded in 1857) and the graves and mausoleums were surrounded by old trees that shaded me as I walked and shaded those who "slumbered" there. Now that I can no longer drive, it is difficult for me to get to a park or place where I can be with nature. But your posting makes me want to resolve to ask a friend or family member to take me out once maybe every two weeks to a park or nature reserve. Now that I'm learning to use Uber and Lyft, I can go on my own also. Thank you for bringing all this to my mind. Peace. and PS: I hope you are feeling less pain.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I always feel good when I get back from my morning walk in the forest. Now I know why. Trouble is I also feel very hot at ths time of the year even though we leave at 6:30.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a beautiful place to walk. Thanks for taking us along and congratulation on your knee recovery!

    ReplyDelete
  19. That looks like a good book Cynthia - might ask our library to get it in. Interesting to know there is scientific evidence on the benefits of forest bathing. I'm pretty sure the sea air would show benefits too - just nature in general as you say.

    ReplyDelete