Immunity boost - Forest bathing

'Forest bathing' simply means spending time in a forest.

I'm lucky to live near a forested area where I walk regularly and last week we visited a huge forest where we walked three of the recommended walks.  Walking regularly in nature helps you feel really connected with the rhythms of the seasons and with nature itself.  On my walks in the forest I have seen Sika deer, an adder, squirrels, numerous bird species, many fungi including my favourite, fly agaric, numerous flowers including common orchids and patted many friendly dogs.  Next time you are in a forest notice the light coming through the trees, it can be almost magical.  I have affectionate names for certain areas of the forest according to the most common bird species that I see there - 'coal tit corner' and 'blue tit boulevard'.  

In recent years however researchers are discovering there are many benefits to 'forest bathing' which you probably knew instinctively if you walk in a forest regularly.  Forest bathing boosts immunity because of the effect it has on stress and anxiety which can lower immunity.  Forest bathing has been found to lower stress hormones which in turn can allow for Natural Killer cells (a type of lymphocyte) to increase.  These can attack not only viruses but even cancer cells.  The effect is down to the release of chemicals from many trees (phytonates).   These chemicals are also antimicrobial. Another effect of reducing stress and anxiety is that you will feel more energized and you will sleep better.  Stress and anxiety reduction may also be attributed to the colour green which is soothing and restful.  

Add to this the circulation boost that forest bathing gives you, the natural daylight and you can see why walking in my local forest is my favourite walk.  

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