The Importance of Getting Outdoors During COVID-19 pandemic is vital.
Even before this pandemic landed on our shores, the average American was already spending too much time indoors (93% of their day). In these stressful times, it is even more important than usual to Getting Outdoors, during COVID-19, for some fresh air every day (assuming you are allowed to leave your house, and that you stay at least six feet away from others).
After being cooped up in our houses for so long, it’s great to get outside and spend some time in nature. Get out and explore your back yard, or even better, head to your local park or woods (or forest). Enjoy the tall trees, the lush greenery, and the flowers. As you soak in all the sights, sounds, and smells, you’ll start to feel relaxed and appreciate the tranquility of the natural world.
What is Shinrin-yoku?
The Japanese came up with a name for this sensory and healing journey through the outdoors – shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.” Forest bathing is not just a walk in the park, but rather a truly immersive health and wellness practice where you bathe in the forest atmosphere, taking in the forest through all our senses. Unlike a regular hike, forest bathing can be as simple as walking in any natural environment and consciously connecting with what’s around you –
* Feel the warmth of the sunlight on your skin.
* Listen to the music of the songbirds
* Smell the fragrance of the plants and trees
* Taste the freshness of the air as you take deep breaths
* Place your hands on the trunk of a tree
* Dip your fingers or toes in a stream
* Lie on the ground
Many cultures have long-recognized the importance of the natural world to human health.
Shortly after the Japanese first embraced this form of eco-therapy in the 1980s, researchers began studying the physiological benefits of forest bathing, providing the science to support what we already knew – that time spent immersed in nature is good for us. Since then, forest bathing has been linked to a variety of holistic health benefits ranging from lowered blood pressure to reduced anxiety, a stronger immune system, and greater concentration.
Science has recently discovered that native evergreens are both aromatic and release a high concentration of phytoncides – airborne essential oils that provide a natural immunity boost. The health benefits of this phytoncide “shower” can last for weeks.
The good news is that even a small amount of time in nature can have a big impact on our health. A two-hour forest bath will help you to unplug from technology and slow down bringing you into the present moment and de-stress and relax you.
The “Top Forest Bathing Destinations in the World” (according to National Geographic)
Once you’re allowed to travel again, you might consider visiting these famous forest bathing destinations:
New York’s Adirondack Park
– Stretching across more than six million acres of New York State, the Adirondack Park is home to some 2,000 miles of nature trails, and is the largest protected area in the contiguous United States. If you’d like a guide to show you the best spots to hike, paddle, or bike – consider joining our Adirondacks Multisport Trip at the end of August. Explore the region around Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, famous for towering fir trees, sparking lakes and rivers, and spectacular mountains.
– Also in the “Top 5 Forest Bathing Destinations” is New Zealand. This country offers a rich assortment of scenery and activities, including naturalist-led walks through old-growth rainforests, and hikes onto glaciers and along wild ocean beaches. Cycling is also a very popular activity, with fantastic rides through several National Parks and a World Heritage Area. Views of the towering rainforest and the distant snow-capped mountains can also be enjoyed from the water, as you enjoy guided boat tours of a wildlife refuge. Great Bike Tours can offer you all this and more, on our New Zealand Bike Tour next February and March.