5 Great Health Benefits of Walking in the Woods
In Japan, there is a practice known as Shinrin-Yuku, which is the act of “forest bathing”. For many years, people have practiced the idea of rejuvenating their body by making a trip to a forest. In the following infographic, we highlight five great health benefits of joining this practice. Find out how a simple walk in the woods can improve your health.
1. Walking is a Good Form of Exercise
Getting the most obvious benefit out of the way, walking or evening jogging in the woods is a stress-free way of exercising. According to Dr. Tannenberg, a sports Chiropractor in Phoenix, “Walking can be as good as a workout, if not better, than running”.
2. Walking can Reduce Stress
One study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Hong Kong found that participants who viewed scenes of nature experienced lower stress levels. Another study conducted by researchers in Japan found similar results. Participants who were surrounded by nature could reduce their level of cortisol (the stress hormone).
3. The Forest can Boost Your Immune System
Plants emit a substance called Phytocides. The purpose of this substance is to help plants protect themselves from bugs and diseases, but studies have found that it can also benefit us. When we breathe in the Phytocides, our bodies respond by increasing the activity of white blood cells known as NK or natural killer cells. One study found that a participant’s increased NK activity lasted for more than 7 days after a trip to a forest.
4. Walking in the Forest Improves our Focus
Spending time in the forest can give the cognitive portion of our brain a break. In the forest, we don’t have to focus on everyday things that mentally drain us. Instead, we can appreciate the beauty of the forest and observe the plants and animals that thrive in the environment.
According to Dr. Berman, a research fellow at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, a forest “tends to be less crowded so you donâ€™t have to worry about bumping into people, and it also has interesting stimulations to look at, which captures your attention automatically”.
5. Alleviates ADHD Symptoms
Walking in forests could help people who suffer from ADHD symptoms. For example, One study found that children who had access to green spaces showed milder symptoms of ADHD. Children who spend time outdoors have a greater opportunity to replenish their “directed attention”.
As you can see, there’s a lot to gain from spending some time outdoors. It doesn’t have to be in the forest. If there’s no national park close to you then take a stroll in the local park or take part in outdoor activities. You’ll be surprised by how much of a difference it can make to your lifestyle.
If you intend on visiting a forest at some point in the future then please be sure to take the following security and health measures.
- Plan ahead: if you are going to a large forest then research the common routes. Start off with the easiest routes if you aren’t familiar with activities like hiking.
- Let someone know: even if you aren’t going alone, it’s good to give someone a heads up that you’ll be spending some time in nature in case you get into an emergency.
- Pest control: be prepared to encounter common forest pests like ticks and fleas. Bring the appropriate pest control products to keep these insects away from your belongings.
- Wear comfortable shoes: avoid blisters and other foot problems by wearing comfortable exercise shoes. You’ll most likely face different ground elevations.