From the MN Department of Natural Resources
Discover: Smell the forest; it’s good for you!
Did you know that when you visit a forest and breathe in the fresh air, you breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects? These phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities that help plants fight disease. Research indicates that when people breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called “natural killer” cells, or NK. These cells kill tumor- and virus-infected cells in our bodies. Researchers are currently exploring whether exposure to forests can help prevent certain kinds of cancer.
Besides boosting our immune systems, forests also improve human health by:
Lowering blood pressure.
Increasing ability to focus, even in children with ADHD.
Accelerating recovery from surgery or illness.
Increasing energy level.
Based on this growing field of research, a new trend called forest bathing is gaining popularity. Forest bathing combines leisurely walks on gentle paths under a forest canopy with guided activities and meditations to help participants tune their senses to the forest. You don’t need a nature guide to explore the forest and reap the health benefits. You only need to unplug and step into the woods. Even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health. Think of it as a prescription with no negative side effects that’s also free.