This blog post included a collaboration with British Military Fitness for their #SpringIntoAction campaign, to encourage kids to get outdoors and get muddy in Spring. Please see the end of this post for full disclosure. All views and opinions are my own.
Spring is a beautiful time of year, with lighter and warmer days, leading to carpets of blossoming flowers. Everybody is aware of the benefits of exercising, but did you know that just a relaxing walk in the woods can greatly improve your health?
The Japanese have a word for it, “Shinrin-Yoku”, or forest bathing.
In a study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, they tested the levels of Natural Killer cells (NK cells) following walking in either a forest, or a tourist route in a city.
NK cells are your body’s front line of defence. They can attack virally infected cells and tumour cells.
The subjects in the study walked for 2 hours, over a distance of only 2.5 km, and stayed overnight in a hotel, either in the forest or city. The next day they walked for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon, and then stayed overnight once again.
They found that the forest bathing trip significantly increased human NK activity, whereas the city trip did not.
They also found that the increase in NK activity lasted for more than 7 days after the trip.
How to Shinrin-Yoku—Forest Bathing
Just take a slow walk in the forest. Use your senses…breathe deeply, listen for sounds of nature, touch things. If you would like, you can sit and read a book, or just lie back and relax.
The distance doesn’t matter—the amount of time does. Try to spend at least two hours if you can…although that’s easier said than done, when you have two young kids with short legs 🙂
Our Forest Bathing trip—Peter Rabbit
It was a lovely, crisp, sunny morning at the weekend. My kids were playing in super-hero fancy dress costumes. I suggested enjoying some sunshine and taking a walk—and as they were in costume, I joined them by wearing a Superman top ☺ Luckily it was only mildly embarrassing, as we only met a couple of dog walkers.
I’m also qualified to teach Kids Fitness, and my children are so used to running around, that I found I had to occasionally remind myself to let them pause and take time to explore in their own time—in order to make the most of the forest bathing.
Living in Surrey in the UK, I’m so lucky to be surrounded by countryside. There are many places to choose from, but one of my kids’ favourites, is a place known mostly only by the locals: Ridlands Grove—or Peter Rabbit’s walk.
It’s a magical piece of forest operated by the National Trust. There are a number of little houses for woodland creatures, both on the forest floor, and in the trees.
Try to find them all:
- Hedgehog Hall
- Owl House
- Peter Rabbit’s Post Office
- Badger Barracks
- Fox Villa
There’s also a little fairy door in one of the trees. Owl House can be tricky to spot the first time—just look for the arrow nailed to a tree, pointing upwards.
You can also leave a letter for Peter Rabbit in his Post Office, and see if he writes back.
How to get to Ridlands Grove for Peter Rabbit’s walk
Limpsfield Common is near Oxted, in Surrey. The car park is called Ridlands Grove, and is situated just off Ridlands Lane. It’s free to enter and park.
Click here for more information.
So this Spring, go outside with your kids, and find a forest for some Shinrin-Yoku. George
What’s your favourite forest to walk in? Please vote for your favourite by adding it to the comment box near the bottom of this page. Thanks.
George D. Choy
Personal Trainer & Calisthenics Instructor
Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom
This blog post included a collaboration with British Military Fitness for their #SpringIntoAction campaign, to encourage kids to get outdoors and get muddy in Spring. All views and opinions are my own. I was not paid to write this post.
Some of the links or adverts in the post above are affiliate links—so if you click on the links and purchase an item, I may receive affiliate commission. All opinions I expressed in this post are entirely my own. Please refer to my DISCLOSURE page on the ABOUT tab.
 Qing Li, Kanehisa Morimoto, Maiko Kobayashi, Hirofumi Inagaki, Masao Katsumata, Yukiyo Hirata, Kimiko Hirata1, Hiroko Suzuki, Yingji Li, Yoko Wakayama, Tomoyuki Kawada, Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Takahide Kagawa, Tatsuro Ohira, Norimasa Takayama, Alan M. Krensky. Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo. International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology (Impact Factor: 1.62). 04/2007; 20(2 Suppl 2):3-8.