FOREST BATHING: THE JAPANESE ART OF BEING OUTDOORS
The outdoors and its magic has long since been extolled, with Henry David Thoreau prescribing the “tonic of the wilderness” to restless civilians in his work Walden: Or, Life in the Woods in 1854.
But nowhere has this proved more popular than Japan, with the concept of ‘forest bathing’ – essentially just being surrounded by trees – being made part of the national public health programme in 1982. Not long after, the phrase shinrin-yoku was coined, meaning ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ or, forest bathing. It was prescribed as therapy, with the government spending nearly four million dollars over eight years trying to prove its efficacy.
They discovered that your immune system actually strengthens after exposure to woods, with one study in 2009 showing that the positive effects lasted almost a month after indulging in some forest bathing. The key, they highlighted, was to not exert yourself but just to relax and take in the air – and it was proven that just by doing nothing, you could lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of well-being. Sounds like our kind of therapy.
So if you go down to the woods today, here are our top-picks for strolling, sitting, swimming and admiring your surroundings in, with pieces inspired and produced from nature itself. And if you need that extra boost? Book in now for a WildFitness or Bold Bodies experience, that combines wellness with stunning scenery.
Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest in positive living. If you’ve enjoyed our article on mindfulness, you might also like to read ‘How To Be Body Confident Whatever Your Age’ and ‘Wellness and the Great Outdoors: A WildFitness Guide’