When we saw a headline about a “forest bath” in an on-line publication the other day, we initially took its meaning literally.
But the article was not about physically bathing in the woods. Rather, it pointed out that there have been some studies which have suggested that spending time in heavily-treed areas can decrease blood pressure and stress and boost overall mood, particularly if there is a stream or lake nearby. Exercising in the woods also has similar unique benefits (which made us recall some of our cross-country runs.)
The article further noted that the sounds and smells of the forest, as well as the chemicals released by trees, can have a calming effect. (Though we assume this does not include the growling of a bear…)
After we read the article, we realized that a “forest bath” simply is a new-agey term for taking a hike in the woods.
Here in New England, the change to the fall season provides us with the ultimate opportunity to take a nice hike. Summer’s humidity is gone and the cool, crisp air is perfect for taking a long walk amidst the splendor of the foliage season.
Although our most-memorable hikes have been in the mountains of northern New England, we don’t have to travel that far to enjoy a forest bath. The nearby Blue Hills, Arnold Arboretum, state parks, and parks under the auspices of the Trustees of Reservations provide many nearby opportunities to enjoy the solitude of nature with our friends and family members.
So whether you call it a hike — or a forest bath — we encourage all of our readers to get outside in the coming weeks.