yes, it is a real thing! Otherwise known as the healing power of a walk in the woods.
As it turns out, Japanese scientists have found ways to quantify the impact that forest therapy (shinrin-ryoho), can have on humans, especially children. Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Japan’s leading scholar on forest medicine, states:
A walk in the woods, or ‘shinrin-yoku’, provides preventive medical effects by relieving stress and recovering the immune system diminished by stress.
According to Miyazaki’s research studies…
‘forest bathing’ can significantly lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, along with blood pressure and heart rate. Walking in the woods can boost the body’s immune system by increasing anti-cancer proteins and enhancing the activity of certain cancer-fighting cells. The research suggests that humans benefit from breathing in ‘phytoncides’, the volatile organic compounds plants emit to protect themselves from bacteria, fungi and insects.
Kids are dealing with stress at younger and younger ages. We live in a fast paced, hyper-stimulating world in which “symptomless hypertension” is beginning to erupt in 20 year olds. Children need to learn calm. When the lesson comes from an adult, the connection can last a lifetime.
Time in nature with children can introduce the next generation to the benefits of peace and serenity under the canopy of the forest. Listening to the chirp of a bird in the distance, seeing a chipmunk scurry around a tree, smelling the earthiness of the outdoor path can give children a beginning appreciation for the simple, slow and revitalizing beauty of nature.
A walk with an adult or parent, making connections through the experience, passes down the cultural appreciation of learning to live in nature’s moment. What a priceless and comforting gift to give a child!
During this especially breathtaking Fall, why not take a little one out for a walk for some forest bathing? The benefits will enhance you both!