Shinrin-yoku. No, you can’t order it at the sushi bar. It’s the Japanese concept of forest bathing, and research is promising— spending time in the forest can lower salivary cortisol, blood pressure, and pulse, and stimulate the immune system. One study found that immune the system boost from a day out in nature persisted at significant levels for A MONTH (see evidence here and here).
It sounds a little woo-woo, no? But When I first heard of this, my response was “hell yeah.” I’ve always known that two hours on a trail outside of the city is different from two hours pounding the pavement, but now there’s science!
Other reasons to get outside:
- -Vitamin D. You need sunlight to make it.
- -Better sleep. Sunlight in the morning helps your body’s natural circadian rhythms.
- -Better air. Despite air pollution, indoor air is genreally dirtier than outdoor air— especially out of the city.
- -Better mood. We know that increased exposure to sunlight combats seasonal affective disorder.
- -Exercise. I mean, you can sit outside, but why not walk, run, or bike?
And yes, you can do it. While the science has mostly been done in acutal forests in Japan (because, no joke, the government promotes it), it’s likely that being out in nature at all, anywhere, even for a little while, is good. Look for a park in your town. Take a drive out to a preserve on saturday. Walk around your building at lunch. Jog outside before work. Hell, opt for patio seating. Couldn’t hurt!
If you spend 30 minutes outside in nature and you don’t feel better, I will give you your money back (note: going outside is free!).