What Is Forest Bathing?

OceanView campus walking path.

Have you ever enjoyed a calm quiet walk in the woods? One of the great advantages of living in Maine are the many wonderful wooded areas. OceanView residents enjoy the benefit of having easy access to a variety of walking paths and trails on our beautifully wooded 80-acre campus. There are, of course, the cardiovascular, muscular strength and pulmonary improvements that come with walking, but there are also psychological benefits.

Since the 1980’s, the Japanese have been researching and promoting the practice of Shinrin-yoku as preventative medicine. In English, Shinrin-yoku translates to “Forest Bathing” which is meant to be a walk in the woods, not a hike, but time to take in the atmosphere of the forest without a particular destination or timeline. Forest Bathers are encouraged to use all of their senses to enjoy the forest, such as smelling the flowers, touching the bark of the trees and listening to the birds.

Psychological evaluations before and after Forest Bathing showed statistically significant increases in positive feelings and vigor, as well as decreases in negative subscales and negative feelings. Multiple peer-reviewed articles have also found decreases in salivary cortisol (stress hormone), lower pulse rates and lower blood pressure.

So the next time you’re thinking about taking a walk, maybe try some Forest Bathing of your own! Enjoy the sights, take in the beauty of nature and relax while you walk.

Kate Foley, MS, NSCA-CPT
Fitness Manager at OceanView

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