Forest bathing: The physical and mental benefits of nature

A person pauses on a hike through the woods to look up through the trees.

Now, more than ever, we’re looking for simple ways to keep ourselves mentally and physically fit.

When we are limited in where we can go and the amount of resources we have available, suddenly something as simple as going on a walk with can feel like a big occasion.

But why the big draw? Why does it feel like getting outside is perhaps the best thing we can do for our physical and mental wellbeing these days?

Probably because when we go on walks, we have the opportunity to reconnect with nature, and research shows that having that sustained connection with the great outdoors can make people feel happier and healthier.

A beautiful image of the sun shining through tree branches.

Forest bathing, green therapy, ecotherapy

You could say you’re participating a form of therapy when you slow down to check out the new buds on trees or new flowers in yards, or when you take a deep breath of fresh outside air and feel the breeze on your face.

That trendy activity is called forest bathing, green therapy or ecotherapy—translation: walks in the woods.

You don’t have to head into an actual forest or head to a beach reap the benefits. Even heading out into the backyard to put your feet in the grass, dig in the dirt, or set up a picnic where you can hear the birds can feel like a shift.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits.

Three people take a break under a tree after running in the park.

Nature for physical health

Time in nature, whether for exercising or simply to enjoy the outdoors, has shown to lower blood pressure, improve the immune system, and even lower chances for obesity.

Not only has it been shown to make you feel more calm and connected to nature, but getting into nature can actually help with your nervous system, heart conditions or other disorders.

A person smiles as they ride through a green, tree-filled park.

Nature for mental health

Mental health benefits, probably already noticed by those spending time in nature, have been scientifically studied, as well. Being in nature lowers levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), encourages emotional regulation and fosters deep breathing, which helps anxiety.

Scientists found that our mental health is increased in other ways, too. Problem solving, memory, attention and focus, and even creative abilities are improved by getting outside.

Close up of a farmer's hands planting acerola tree seedlings.

Sun, dirt, oxygen—and no screens

Time in the sun provides exposure to vitamin D, an essential vitamin that the majority of people around the world are deficient in. It also helps our bodies restore their natural sleep cycles.

Digging in the dirt, whether gardening, landscaping or making mud pies with your kids, can provide exposure in the soil that helps your body release serotonin, the happy-making chemical.

Up your activity in nature, and you’re also releasing endorphins—while breathing in better oxygen—for more happy-making mood regulation.

And of course, time spent in nature is time spent away from our screens—our devices, to do lists, the news—and who doesn’t reap the benefits of a break from all of that?

As life moves indoors—get outside

Though it may seem inconsequential, the more life moves indoors the more scientists are noting the value of reconnecting to the outdoor world.

Whether looking for stress relief, an enjoyable way to move your body and keep in shape, or just something to do to get out of the house, reconnecting to nature is more important now than ever.

So, get outside! Want to read more tips and advice for healthy living? Check out additional blogs at Amway Connections.

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