“Shinrin-yoku” (forest bathing or sylvotherapy in English) may seem a bit strange. This involves taking a quick dose of fresh air and nature while hiking in the woods for a short period to reduce stress, especially for city dwellers, who today represent 80% of the French population! As such, there are probably lots of you looking to get your due "dose of forest" each weekend!
The term "forest bathing" (“shinrin-yoku”) was born in Japan and has been supported by the Japanese government through its Forestry Agency since 1982. The practice has been studied by scientists to validate its benefits for both body and morale. It's a good way to go hiking in the autumn to quickly destress at the weekend and rest up your mind for the week ahead, all in record time. Here are three reasons to give it a go if you're not yet a forest bathing devotee:
2. Reduces Stress
Several laboratory and field studies have been conducted, including the famous open-air study by the University of Chiba, which monitored a total of 280 participants in 24 forests in Japan. One group walked in town, the other in the forest, then swapped roles the next day. The cortisol level (stress hormone), blood pressure, pulse and heart rate of each participant were taken each morning at breakfast, then just before leaving (for the forest or town) and finally just after returning for subsequent comparison. It turned out that participants who walked in the forest rather than in the city had lower cortisol levels, pulse and heart rate. Walking in the forest therefore reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and relaxes your body.
3. Is accessible to everyone, everywhere, all the time
You're worried about getting wet?
You're not a fan of the forest? Hiking in general, in the mountains, at the seaside or in the countryside, offers numerous benefits.