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It's no secret that spending time in nature offers immense health benefits. Even something as simple as taking a leisurely hike through the woods can turn around a bad mood.
If you know what I'm talking about, then you'll be interested to know there's a name for this phenomenon: Shinrin-yoku, which means "forest bathing" in Japanese. If that sounds a bit "woo woo" for your tastes, withhold that judgment for a minute because there's science to back it up!
The "magic" behind forest bathing boils down to the naturally produced allelochemic substances known as phytoncides, which are kind of like pheromones for plants. Their job is to help ward off pesky insects and slow the growth of fungi and bacteria. When humans are exposed to phytoncides, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress and boost the growth of cancer-fighting white blood cells. Some common examples of plants that give off phytoncides include garlic, onion, pine, tea tree and oak, which makes sense considering their potent aromas.
While you can certainly receive benefits from phytoncides during a relaxing session with an aromatherapist, forest bathing is special because it also incorporates exercise. So, what are you waiting for? Go frolic in the woods!
(Or if you still need some convincing, continue below for some gorgeous forest images that are sure to inspire.)
Photo: Semmick Photo/Shutterstock
Tree tunnel in Gormanston, Ireland
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan
Photo: Michal Szymanski/Shutterstock
Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Ang Ka trail, Doi Inthanon National Park
Photo: Catie Leary
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Photo: Tonkin Image/Shutterstock
Tra Su mangrove forest, An Giang, Vietnam
Daocheng Yading Natural Reserve, Sichuan, China
Aitutaki Lagoon, Cook Islands