Forest-Bathing

Forest-Bathing

I read an article last night that talked about cataloguing and tracking Vancouver’s ‘urban forest’. Apart from the fact that I really appreciate the initiative, I also like the term urban forest. I think it is so very fitting in a city such as ours. In some neighbourhoods, the houses are quite literally nestled amongst the trees.

Not only can one live amidst these giants, but you can, of course, run and walk alongside them every day. Whether in a manicured park, left-to-itself ravine or simply down your block, we are lucky to have a bounty of conifers and deciduous trees rising up to the sky.

I love the smell of the trees; breathing in a deep breath of Christmas fir, or musty leaves, or simply the lack of a smell as the trees have sequestered our emitted CO2 and released lovely, life-giving oxygen.

Forest Bathing

Shinrin-Yoku

In Japan, the term “shinrin-yoku” or “forest-bathing” has been coined. This is the act of enhancing health or healing that involves wandering in the forest or spending time in natural places. The simple act of walking or being in a natural setting with a relaxed mindset has restorative and rejuvenating benefits. Studies have shown the growing incidence of environmental stress that comes from being in a lively, urban environment.

A 2010 paper published in Environment Health & Preventative Medicine looks at various studies conducted over the years on shinrin-yoku. Overall, these studies found people who viewed or walked in a forest for as little as 30 minutes showed decreased blood pressure, decreased pulse rate and decreased cortisol and stress levels. As the paper points out, from an anthropological level, humans have lived in natural environments until very recently, therefore our physiological functions are optimal in a natural setting. These physiological measurements suggest that shinrin-yoku can effectively relax the human body.

As the season changes and the leaves are turning colours and crunching underfoot, get out and spend some time forest-bathing.

You’ll come back feeling refreshed.

Kristin Ohm-Pedersen
Kintec Race Team

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