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Forest bathing, also called shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese practice that involves spending time in nature and taking in the forest atmosphere through our senses, among trees. Being in nature is known to make us feel good, the breath of fresh, clean air, the scent of trees and flowers, the rays of beautiful sunlight; all these tend to rejuvenate us, ease our stress and mood, and also makes us generally more happy. Read on to know more about how forest bathing can make you happier and healthier after 60.
Multiple scientific studies through the last few decades from Japan and South Korea reinforced beliefs of psychological, physical and emotional benefits forest bathing provides to both genders. Nippon Medical School Tokyo, measured Natural Killer (NK) cell (human immunity cells) activity in subjects in 2009 and found high increase in cell activity in the week after forest visit lasting almost a month. Change reasons were narrowed to phytoncide oils found in woods that trees and plants emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. Though the air doesn’t feel fresher breathing phytoncides does the trick. Similar studies across male groups and nurses yielded increases activity levels of 40% – 50% within the travelers.
Forest bathing is simply a complete connection with nature through our sense of sight, smell, taste, touch and sense of hearing. Initially practiced in the early 1980s in Japan based on common sense and the intuitive idea that being in the forest was good for the mind and health, it has evolved to being a highly sought out by world for its positive effects on health. The term was invented in 1982 by the then Director General of the agency of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan. Forest bathing has been proven to provide relaxation, increase energy, decrease anxiety, depression, and anger and also reduce stress; physiologically it’s been proven to reduce weight, enhance immune functions and also expression of anti-cancer proteins.
Forest Bathing has been encouraged for people above 60 because it helps them live a healthier and happier life, which is really necessary for people their age. Studies have shown the forest bathing is actually very therapeutic for the elderly; it relaxes their mind and reduces stress anger and depression. The peace and tranquility creates the perfect environment for happy thoughts, far away from the buzz of civilization and the hazards that come with it. Physiology, it’s been proven to improve memory and concentration, reduce hypertension and regulates blood pressure in elders, it is highly beneficial as an adjunctive treatment for patients with chronic heart failure, it increases the expression of killer cells which fight off cancer and infection, substances produced by the trees have also been linked with lowering inflammation and brain benefits, it has a beneficial effect on elderly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients and generally improving health. Studies have also reported that forest bathing improves sleep and improve pain thresholds which are highly beneficial to the elderly.
A two – three hour trip for a walk in the forest, enjoying the scents from trees and leaves, the vegetation, the sounds of birds and life in nature is enough for forest bathing. Beyond the obvious pleasures of being out in the open, forest bathing is highly recommend for people above 60 not only for their happiness but to help them live and long and healthier life.