The Health & Wellness Benefits of Forest Bathing

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. —Robert Louis Stevenson 

We all know that escaping the noise and the stress of the busy city to spend some time in the beauty and tranquility of nature is good for us. But what exactly does it do to us? Scientists have delved into this question to figure out exactly what spending time in nature does to our physical and mental selves. It turns out that evidence is mounting on the positive effects of contact with nature on our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

In 1982, the Forest Agency of the Japanese government launched its shinrin-yoko plan. In Japanese, shinrin means forest, and yoku refers to “bathing, showering or basking in.” More broadly, it is defined as “taking in, in all of our senses, the forest atmosphere.” The program was established to encourage people to get out into nature and bathe the mind and body in greenspace, as a means of promoting health and decrease stress levels. Today, forest bathing is a recognized form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.

Over the years, studies conducted by university and government researchers around the world have studied the effects of forest bathing on our moods, stress level and immune system. The research team at Chiba University in Japan has confirmed that spending time within a forest setting can reduce physiological stress, depressive symptoms, and hostility, while at the same time improving sleep and increasing both vigor and a feeling of liveliness. 

Today, the scientifically proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:

  • Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body's Natural Killer cells
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep
  • Lower levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure and pulse rate

Located less than an hour from Vancouver, the team at the Loon Lake Lodge and Retreat Centre has seen first hand the transformation in guests from when they first arrive to when they leave. Surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of the wild west coast forest, the change is palpable, and is what draws people back year after year for corporate and wellness retreats, groups and reunions. 

Visitors of Loon Lake will find two forest bathing trials available for their health and enjoyment. The 45-minute Discovery Trail for beginners takes guests on a beautiful and soothing walk through a fir and cedar filled forest, while the intermediate level Loon Lake Trail takes visitors on a more challenging but equally as scenic hike around the perimeter of Loon Lake. 

Come visit us at Loon Lake and feel for yourself the increased flow of energy, the deeper and clearer intuition, and the overall increase in sense of happiness that forest bathing can bring to your life.