Forest bathing: Let us tell you all about the latest trend that’s taking over the world | health | Hindustan Times
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Forest bathing: Let us tell you all about the latest trend that’s taking over the world

‘Forest bathing’ is the wellness trend in which you take a walk through a forest or garden and breathe in your surroundings.

health Updated: Jul 13, 2017 22:57 IST
HT Correspondent
‘Forest bathing’ involves walking through a beautiful, peaceful natural area and absorbing the natural surroundings.
‘Forest bathing’ involves walking through a beautiful, peaceful natural area and absorbing the natural surroundings. (Shutterstock)

The latest wellness trend taking over the world is ‘forest bathing’. It’s also called shinrin-yoku in Japanese, which means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’.

The practice originated in Japan and is a well known stress management technique there. It is also referred to as sēnlínyù in Mandarin and sanlimyok in Korean.

The practice of forest bathing comprises going to a forest for the purpose of relaxation while inhaling essential wood oils, such as limonene. Studies in Japan have shown that there are significant changes in immune markers and stress hormones in those people who regularly took walks in certain Japanese forests. Additionally, after conducting a test it was also found that those who had diabetes (not taking insulin) benefitted substantially from this practice, one of the benefits being their blood glucose levels went down.

The test was conducted in the late 1990’s by the Department of Gerontotherapeutics at Hokkaido University School of Medicine. There were a total of 87 test subjects who were non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. The patients would take walks of either 3 km, which they completed in 30 minutes or 6 km, which they completed in one hour, in a forest. During this period their blood samples were taken periodically.

They went through this test nine times in a period of six years and the results showed that this practice improved their health, with their blood glucose levels going down as far as 38.9% for the 3 km walks and 40% for the 6 km walks.

The phrase was coined by the Japanese forest ministry in 1982 when it was associated with the national public health programme.

‘Forest bathing’ involves walking through a beautiful, peaceful natural area and absorbing the serene surroundings. It can also be termed as walking meditation.

You choose your path as per your fitness level and how much distance you can cover. Ideally it should be a hike of not more than four miles. Also, it’s not about making it to the end; it’s more about enjoying the journey.

During the hike, you can sit and take in the surroundings, reflect and also read- these are ways to enhance the whole experience. While resting, try to use all your senses to be aware of what all is going around you.

So, when are you going for your ‘forest bathing’?

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