Read time: 4 minutes
A close friend of mine, Bwood, once said, “Kids don’t drink enough hose water.” We were in college at the time and sitting on our dueling couches. We had two sofas facing two different TVs so we could watch other shows simultaneously, brilliant at the time.
Bwood was writing a paper for one of his environmental and forestry courses. He was thinking about why kids don’t get outside and the effects of not being outside. When he explained his thoughts to me, I nodded my head vigorously. He was right!
With the world in a state of chaos for well over a year as COVID took control of many of the things we all can do, the one thing we could do is get outside.
According to the latest statistics, over 10 million households tried camping for the first time in 2020, rising from previous years. These new campers have reported they will camp just as much in 2021.
The idea of getting outside reminded me of forest bathing or shin rin yoku in Japanese. Forest bathing is an ancient practice in Japan. It is known for connecting people closely with nature.
Dr. Li, a forest medicine expert, has researched the properties of forest bathing. His research has proven that spending time around yields several health benefits. Here is a link to his book: Dr. Li’s book, Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing.
Dr. Li found that when people took time to get outside and spend time around trees is the following:
1. Reduced blood pressure
2. Lower stress and anxiety
3. Decreased depression
4. Less anger
5. Boost to energy
6. A boost to the immune system
7. Weight loss
Not only do you get these health benefits found by Dr. Li, but exposure to the sunshine can increase your vitamin D. Greater Good Science Center Magazine wrote that increased vitamin D is necessary as an aid in absorbing calcium which makes bones and teeth strong and healthy. The substance is vital for children whose bodies are still growing. Pride and Care Healthcare wrote that increased Vitamin D could reduce heart disease in adults and decreased the incidence of diabetes in children.
It’s funny. Years later, Bwood was correct. Unfortunately, he did not have the research about forest bathing or vitamin D to back up his thoughts, but what he did tell me on our dueling couches connected with what Dr. Li and many others have said since.
In other words, “kids need to drink more hose water.” We all need to get outside to not only enjoy the fresh air but to be around trees and get some sun for our health.
So, get outside and consider following these steps to forest bathing that Dr. Li suggested:
1. Find a spot
2. Engage all your senses
3. Don’t hurry
4. Try different activities
5. Appreciate the silence
Enjoy the great outdoors!
With compassion, kindness, and the love of being outside,
Co-host of the "Act To Live Podcast"
Author of "Let’ Walk Together: The Act To Live Podcast Blog"
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