Forest bathing is widely practiced for health reasons. The concept is simple: to surround yourself in nature for the purpose of absorbing the healing properties of the forest. Adherents claim that it can lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate and reduce the levels of harmful hormones such as cortisol. Overall it has a calming effect.
But does it really work or is it the product of someone’s imagination? Research shows that the effects of forest bathing are real and demonstrable. A Russian scientist began to study forest bathing in the 1920’s, working on the theory that the “aromas of the forest” strengthen our immune systems. Subsequent study has shown that trees emit an organic, antimicrobial volatile compound that our bodies absorb and which reduces inflammation and helps us fight off germs.
So how to practice forest bathing? First, find a peaceful wooded area where you can linger for 20 minutes daily. When you enter that quiet forest, walk slowly and stop often, listening and observing. This is not a time for your daily jog – vigorous exercise defeats the purpose. Instead immerse your senses in the sights and sounds of nature while you’re absorbing that healthy aroma of the forest. The nearby presence of water enhances the effect.
Of interest to those of us who live in southwest Florida, modern research has determined that the trees which give us the greatest benefits in forest bathing are all varieties of cypress trees. CREW’s Bird Rookery Swamp Trail is an ideal place to practice forest bathing. Surrounded by cypress trees and plenty of water, you leave feeling refreshed.
By a CREW Trust Volunteer