What are the benefits of walking in the woods?

In Japan, taking a walk in the woods is taken very seriously and the effects of walking in the woods, or ‘forest bathing’ as it is called, have been studied by the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, as well as the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The secret that the Japanese have discovered about walking in a forest is that it does far more than just giving you some exercise and a bit of fresh air. The air in a forest contains all kinds of beneficial things that have been emitted from the trees, so read on, and you will find out ten fantastic benefits of taking a stroll in the woods.

1. It can reduce depression

Just being near tree can reduce depression and that has been proven in studies conducted in big cities. In one study carried out in London, it was found that people who lived near to tress had much better mental health. Researchers discovered that, the more trees that could be found in any location, the fewer the number of people who were being prescribed antidepressants.

2. It lowers blood pressure

Taking a walk on the wild side can also dramatically reduce your blood pressure. In Japan, researchers had one group of subjects take a walk in a wooded area and another group in a built up area. Those subjects that had taken a walk in the woods had significantly lower blood pressure when they returned, when compared to those subjects who had walked in an urban area.

3. The sounds in a wood reassure us

The peace and tranquillity of a wooded area is a part of the attraction of a walk in the woods, but it also the sounds of nature that we can hear that have an impact on our minds. For example, the sound of the birds singing in the branches of the trees has an amazing effect on our mood and it makes us feel that all is well with the world.

4. You get more oxygen to your brain

There is a reason why the fresh air of a woodland can help clear your mind and make you think more clearly, and that is the lack of pollution and the increase of oxygen in the air. A single mature tree produces about 250 pounds of oxygen every year and that’s enough, on its own, to support two human beings.

5. It helps you recover from illness

Walking amongst trees can also help you to recover from an illness. According to research that was carried by the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, convalescing patients can gain an immense benefit from being closer to nature and it was found that even just being able to see trees form a hospital window can speed up the recovery of patient.

6. It could protect you from cancer

In our bodies, we have cells that are called, Natural Killer Cells, which are a part of our immune system that can fight cancer. Researchers at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo found that participants in a study who spent three days in a forest had increased amounts of natural killer cells in their blood when they returned. It was also proven that just a single walk in the woods increased the levels of natural killer cells.

7. It lowers stress levels

The smells of a forest can reduce stress significantly and walks in the woods have been shown to reduce the symptoms of chronic stress. Trees, such as cedar, cypress and pine, emit scents that contain phytoncides, which have been found to decrease levels of the stress related hormone, cortisol.

8. It can improve brain power

Walking in the woods has also been shown to improve learning capacity and the memory and that is why there is currently a trend to site kindergartens in wooded areas. Researchers have found that, children who play in wooded areas develop better cognitive skills and are better equipped to be able assess risks and dangers. It also, of course, gives children a better appreciation of the natural world.

9. It energises you and it helps you sleep

Japanese research has also shown that strolling in the woods increases vitality and vigour. People who take forest walks have more of a zest for life generally and apply themselves better in everyday tasks. The calming effect of walking in nature also helps people sleep more soundly at night.

10. It can help overweight people lose weight

Not surprisingly, a walk in the woods has proven to be more of an attractive proposition to people who are overweight than an hour in a gym. Doctors are now suggesting that walking in the woods is a far healthier way for obese people to exercise than walking on a treadmill is. The attraction of a walk in the woods is also more likely to make people stick to an exercise plan.

Stay happy and healthy!

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