Pourquoi les bains de forêt sont bons pour la santé

Why forest bathing is good for your health

Sep 05, 2023

Although any form of nature can improve our health and happiness , there is something special about being in a forest.

“Nature deficit disorder” is a modern disease.

With more people living in cities, working in office buildings, and becoming dependent on their countless electronic devices, many of us are indeed suffering from a nature deficit . This goes for children as well as adults.

Forest bathing to increase your well-being

In his new book, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness , Qing Li, a Japanese physician and researcher , presents some sobering statistics: By 2050, according to the United Nations Population Division, three-quarters of the world's population will live in cities.

Even today, the average American spends 93% of their time indoors and some ten hours a day on social media, more than they sleep.


"Some study forests. Others study medicine. I study forest medicine to discover all the ways forest walking can improve our well-being ," Mr. Li writes.

The secrets of tree health seem to lie in two elements:

  • the higher concentration of oxygen in a forest compared to an urban environment
  • the presence of plant chemicals called phytoncides, natural oils that are part of a plant's defense system against bacteria, insects and fungi.

According to Li, exposure to these substances can have measurable beneficial effects on human health . Physiological stress is reduced, for example, and blood pressure and heart rate decrease.

Evergreen trees (pine, cedar, spruce, and conifers) are the largest producers of phytoncides, and this is why walks in evergreen forests appear to have the greatest health benefits .

forest bathing

How to practice forest bathing and reduce anxiety:

Is forest bathing a specific art ? Or is it as simple as a walk in the woods?

Connecting to nature is simple , writes Li. "All we have to do is accept the invitation. Mother Nature does the rest.

Here are some of the steps it suggests:

1. Find a place.

Depending on where you are, find a good nature source . You don't have to go deep into a forest to benefit from these benefits. Just look for a green space . It could be a city park, a nature preserve, or a trail in the suburban woods. Coniferous forests are considered particularly beneficial.

2. Let your body guide you.

Listen to where it wants to take you , says Mr. Li. Some people prefer sunny clearings, others more shady places. Listen to your own wisdom . For people who don't have access to a forest or can't go outside for whatever reason, infusing essential oils from trees in your home, or infusing organic plants , can also be beneficial.

3. Use all of your senses.

Let nature in through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet . Actively listen, smell, touch and look. “Drink the flavor of the forest and release your sense of joy and calm.”

4. Take your time.

Slow walking is recommended for anyone wanting to increase their peace of mind , but also for people with joint problems .

And it's good to spend as much time in the forest as possible . You'll notice positive effects after twenty minutes , Li says, but a longer visit, ideally four hours , is preferable.

5. Try different activities.

Do yoga in the woods, tai chi , or meditation . Have a picnic. Write a poem. Study plants . You can venture out alone or with a companion. In Japan, there are even therapists specializing in forest walking.

Also Read: The Benefits of Meditation

6. Appreciate the silence.

One of the downsides of city life is constant noise . If you're lucky, you'll find a wooded area free of human-made noise. Silence is restorative , and a forest can have its own healing sound – the rustling of leaves, a trickle of water, the song of birds.

Spend a few quiet moments with your favorite tree. At least when we connect with nature, we are reminded that we are part of a larger whole .

And that, Li notes, can lead us to be less selfish and think more of others.

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