Spending time in natural environments has been linked to lower stress levels, improved working memory and feeling more alive, among other positive attributes. In an effort to combat our indoor epidemic and reap these health benefits, a growing number of Americans have become followers of a Japanese practice called Shinrin-yoku. Coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1982, the word literally translates to “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing” and refers to the process of soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of a natural setting to promote physiological and psychological health.
Other studies have found an association between Shinrin-yoku and a boost in immune function. Subjects took a 3-day/2-night trip to forest areas in Japan with researchers taking blood and urine samples before and after the excursion. The numbers of natural killer cells — a type of white blood cell that fights infected or tumor cells — and other immune system markers were significantly higher after forest bathing than before. Participants’ natural killer cell activity rose about 50 percent throughout the trip, while their urinary adrenaline concentration showed a decrease.
Via Washington Post