Updated: Jan 16, 2022
We humans can convince ourselves in so many ways and science has had the focus of our attention for several hundred years. Most of us tend to relax and breathe deeper when we know that science has investigated and validated our experience and our deep intuitive knowing.
Dr. Qing Li, a forest bathing tree lover and scientist, has given us just that in his book Forest Bathing, How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness. Dr. Li has used scientific testing to investigate the mightly transformative powers of trees on our health. Here are a few highlights on the proven benefits of forest bathing: The average sleep time of participants after a two-hour forest walk increased by 15%- or 54 minutes. They experienced measurably decreased tension/anxiety, anger/hostility, and fatigue/confusion; as well as, lowered blood pressure and heart rate, and increased heart-rate variability.
Being in the trees suppresses the sympathetic fight or flight system. It lowers the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and releases dopamine, the feel good, all is well, hormone. Participants were significantly less anxious after a two-hour forest walk.
Afternoon walks improved the quality of sleep more than morning walks. After experiments on immune activity, Dr. Li reports that natural killer (NK) cell activity went from 17.3% to 26.5%- a 53.2% increase. NK cell numbers went from 440 to 661- a 50% increase. He also tested how long these benefits lasted and found that a two-hour forest bathing trip once a month is enough to maintain a high level of immune system activity. For many of us, science is the underlining of what we already know in our immediate experience and instinctual human memory. For others, it is a powerful message to hear that a simple mindful sensory aware walk in the woods can have such benefits. When you begin to really tune into individual trees and sync with their energies you have then taken it to a whole other level. I love this.