Note: I will keep adding to this forest bathing library as I come across more research, so make sure to check back! Feel free to make suggestions too!
When I first learned about shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, I was skeptical.
I knew there was something about nature that helped the world make sense.
But I kinda thought forest bathing was some kind of woo-woo thing one might scoff at.
But then I saw the evidence as I dug deeper.
I guess I didn’t really need evidence, intuition was enough to tell me that nature is restorative, but I’m a person who likes evidence.
If you are too, take a read through these studies that show that forest bathing, or nature bathing in general, is really powerful for the mind and body.
Proof that Nature Bathing is Good For You!
Mental Health and Personality Benefits of Forest Bathing
This Netherlands study showed that green spaces helped intercept stress.
Another study in the US showed similar effects on stress reduction.
This study shows that negative emotions like sadness and anger were reduced after spending time in natural environments.
Research suggests that spending time in nature improves attention.
Researchers second that getting outside improves memory and focus, even in the dead of winter.
This study shows that forest settings create more positive emotions and heightened attention than urban settings.
This set of studies shows that forest bathing reduces cortisol levels, lowers pulse rate, lowers blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activation, and less sympathetic nerve activation. In other words, forest bathing reduces all the symptoms of anxiety.
Self-discipline is higher for inner city children exposed to green landscapes.
Self-esteem and mood improve after just 5 minutes in a green natural space.
This study shows that children with attention deficit experience better concentration after walking through a park.
Forest bathing has been shown to reduce hostility and depression and increase liveliness.
Yep, it definitely makes you feel more alive!
Forest bathers enjoy less rumination, a marker of mental illness. Urbanization seems to correlate with higher mental illness rates, so the antidote seems to be more exposure to nature.
Forest environments have a pronounced relaxing effect on the human body. Subjects of this study felt comfort, calm and refreshed after viewing or walking in a forest area.
Live plants and window views increase job satisfaction in the workplace. There’s a valid reason we all want the window view! And a valid reason for employers it to give us!
Natural environments make us more caring, autonomous, and generous.
Physical Benefits of Shinrin-Yoku
Forest bathing improves immune function, helping the body fight off bugs. The study showed that one trip to the forest created a month’s worth of immune system improvement. It seems that inhaling phytoncides, the forests natural aromatherapy, plays a part in this immune response. You can also read more here.
This set of studies recognizes the impact of forest bathing and natural environments on every one of our five senses. They studied each separately: touch, sound, sight, smell, and taste and found a positive effect with all of them. It pays to engage all five senses in your practice.
Those NK cells that forest bathing produces not only improve immune function, but even produce anti-cancer proteins.
The correlation between forest coverage and cancer death seems to indicate that people living in forest areas are less likely to die from some cancers.
If you get outside in the morning, the light helps re-calibrate your circadian rhythm, which is responsible for metabolism and energy, and may even help you lose weight.
Forest bathing improves cognitive function, including working memory. This study also confirms again the stress reduction provided by green landscapes.
If you weren’t convinced about that one, here’s another study showing it improves cognitive function and has a positive effect on depression.
Nature bathing makes you feel more alive!!!! Vitality and restoration. We can all use more of that!
Even just viewing a natural landscape from a hospital window helps patients recover from surgery!
As discussed above, the practice of shinrin-yoku lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels.
This study shows the cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of walking in the forest.
The inner city is the furthest thing from natural environments, so it makes sense that aggression and mental fatigue are reduced by greenery.
Another study shows that the more vegetation inner city occupants were exposed to, the lower levels of crime they experienced.
On the other hand, the high vegetation that children in rural areas are exposed to seem to increase resilience to stress.
Diabetic patients experienced higher insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels after walking in the forest.
If you’re one of those people that like to read everything they can get their hands on about forest bathing, these publications have explored the background and basis of nature bathing:
NPR: Forest Bathing: A Retreat to Nature Can Boost Immunity and Mood
CNN: Why You Should be Forest Bathing (And We Don’t Mean Shampoo)
Fast Company: This is what happens to your brain when you spend more time in nature
The Atlantic: ‘Forest Bathing:’ How Microdosing on Nature Can Help With Stress
Mother Earth News: Your Brain on Nature
NutriUnify has a great in-depth article about forest bathing.
The Washington Post explores forest bathing as a “new trend” in fitness.
Fractal Enlightenment gives insight into the the healing effect of the forest.
The National Geographic has a fascinating article on nature immersion.
The National Geographic also has breathtaking forest bathing photography.
LA Times: ‘Forest Bath’ is the Way to Let Nature Cleanse Away Stress
Oprah Magazine: Shinrin-Yoku, The Japanese Practice that Could Transform Your Day
Park Prescriptions: Profiles and Resources for Good Health from the Great Outdoors
Quartz: The Japanese practice of ‘Forest Bathing’ is scientifically proven to improve your health.
USA Today: Forest Bathing: Walk in the Woods to Shed Worldly Woes
Travel and Leisure: Why the Japanese are Taking Forest Baths and Why You Should Too
Outside Magazine: Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning
Women’s Health Magazine: I Tried a 3-Day Forest Bathing Trip — Here’s What That Was Like
Prevention Magazine: I Tried Forest Bathing and This is What Happened
Reader’s Digest: Why Forest Bathing is the Hottest New Mind-Body Trend
PopSugar: The Wellness Trend from Japan You Need to Know About
***For full books and other resources related to forest bathing, check out our Suggested Resources page.