‘Forest Bathing’ for Good Health


Forest bathing, or being in the presence of trees, is a Japanese practice scientifically proven to boost the immune system, decrease stress, lower blood pressure and improve one’s sense of wellness. The activity, known in Japan as “shinrin-yoku”, belongs to a broader group of natural treatment practices called eco-therapy. The collective includes adventure therapy, animal-assisted interventions, green gyms, social and therapeutic horticulture and wilderness therapy, among others.


Japan made forest bathing part of a national public health program in 1982, according to the World Economic Forum. At the time, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries was promoting topiary — the art of clipping trees and shrubs into ornamental shapes — as therapy. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world. The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.

The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:


* Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells.

* Reduced blood pressure

* Reduced stress

* Improved mood

* Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD

* Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness

* Increased energy level

* Improved sleep