"Forest baths" recommended to improve people's well-being

"Forest bathing" consists of having contact with nature and performing sensory activities and integration with the environment.

"Forest baths" recommended to improve people's well-being
"Forest baths" are recommended to improve people's wellbeing. Photo by Johannes Plenio / Unsplash

The effects of depression, chronic diseases, stress and other ailments can be diminished through the so-called "forest baths", a practice that has reported benefits for people's wellbeing and that has been monitored by academic experts from the University of Guadalajara and other parts of the world.

Dr. Guadalupe Garibay Chávez, researcher of the Department of Environmental Sciences of the University Center of Biological and Agricultural Sciences (CUCBA), said in a press conference that according to studies carried out among people who go to La Primavera Forest and Los Colomos Park, the benefits of spending time in nature are evident both physically and in the state of mind, especially among people who are stressed, highly medicated or with deterioration in mental health.

The current pace of life has caused high levels of stress among the population that generate diseases such as depression and anxiety, in addition to promoting chronic degenerative and cardiovascular diseases, so contact with the forest is a way to counteract its effects and promote health.

"In the studies we have done, some of the references that people have identified in the 'forest baths' is the generation of positive states and emotions such as tranquility and peace, which goes hand in hand with natural landscapes. As for the therapeutic dimensions, people identify in the forests aspects such as serenity, that they are a place to meet and to reduce tension", she stated.

The specialist, who received a certificate in this practice, stated that the "forest baths" consist not only in being in nature, but also in performing various physical activities such as walking, accompanied by exercises to promote awareness of the environment and the sharpening of the senses, in order to take advantage of what this ecosystem has to offer.

The Forest Therapy of Health: A New Field of Research

Alex Gesse, Executive Director of Forest Therapy Hub, from Spain and who has worked with groups of people with various ailments and ages, announced that universities and academia in Europe and countries of other continents are generating joint work to further study the benefits of this practice that until now had a holistic aspect, but that can be a complement to health systems.

"It is a new field that seeks to be a complement to the current health systems. It is not being developed as an alternative, but as a complement, because other studies indicate that patients recover faster from surgery by seeing nature, and in some areas, such as Singapore, they have begun to develop gardens in hospitals, in order to support the restoration of patients," he explained.

The specialists assured that this practice can be performed at any time of the day, preferably in the morning, and that it can be done by people of any age, although the benefits are more marked among those who suffer from some disease, have a deterioration of their mental health or in older adults.

"The dosage will depend a lot on the groups and the interest they have. The 'forest baths', in general, are practices that range from two to three hours, they are immersions in nature in a sequencing of activities with the intention of generating sensorial experiences and of getting in tune with nature; but also an integration among the participants in a total environment of freedom", argued Garibay Chávez.

Gesse informed that two to two and a half hours a week is the ideal time to be in the natural environment and to decrease the levels of cortisone in the blood, a substance generated by stress.