Making lifestyle changes is one way people with hypertension can do to improve their condition. An activity I encourage my patients to try is forest bathing.
Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese lifestyle concept that involves immersing oneself in nature to improve physical and mental well-being. It does not involve physical exercise, but rather, it is about spending time in a natural environment, such as a forest, to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
The concept of forest bathing originated in Japan to address a national health crisis Japan was facing. Japan was seeing more people falling sick because of stress, hence they started to encourage people to be out in the nature, and created certified trails to guide people in outdoor experiences. Shinrin-yoku has since gained popularity worldwide and it widely practice by people who would like to improve their health.
Here are three reasons why forest bathing is highly recommended for anyone looking to lower their blood pressure naturally.
- Forest bathing helps to reduce stress levels
Numerous studies have also shown that spending time in nature can have a positive impact on physical and mental health. One of the main benefits of forest bathing is its ability to reduce stress levels.
Stress is a common problem in modern society and has been linked to numerous health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol, and improve overall well-being.
In a study conducted in Japan, participants who engaged in forest bathing for two hours had significantly lower levels of cortisol compared to those who spent time in an urban environment. The study also found that forest bathing had a positive impact on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s “rest and digest” response.
- Forest bathing has a positive impact on your immune system
Another study conducted in Korea found that forest bathing reduced blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The study showed that spending time in a forest environment for just 20 minutes can have a significant impact on blood pressure, reducing it by an average of 7%.
The exact mechanism behind how forest bathing affects stress levels and blood pressure is not fully understood. However, it is believed to be related to the natural chemicals that plants release, known as phytoncides. These chemicals have been shown to have a positive impact on the immune system and can reduce inflammation in the body.
- Forest bathing can improve your mood
In addition to reducing stress levels and blood pressure, forest bathing has been shown to have numerous other health benefits. These include improved mood, increased focus and attention, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
To practice forest bathing, one should find a natural environment such as a forest, park, or garden, and spend time there without any distractions such as technology or work-related activities. One should focus on their senses, such as the sound of birds, the smell of the forest, and the feel of the earth beneath their feet.
In conclusion, forest bathing is a Japanese lifestyle concept that involves spending time in nature to reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. Numerous studies have shown that forest bathing can have a positive impact on physical and mental health, including reducing stress hormones and blood pressure. The exact mechanism behind how forest bathing works is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the natural chemicals that plants release. Practicing forest bathing can be as simple as finding a natural environment and spending time there without any distractions, focusing on one’s senses.