People Are Now Calling Walking Outside 'Forest Bathing' & We Have So Many Questions

female hiker forest bathing
Mike Ver Spril/Shutterstock
Over 95 percent of Americans own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. While that really doesn't come as a surprise, how about the fact that we typically spend over four hours a day (or about 16 percent of it) on our phones?

Advertisement

Now, let's think about how many hours we spend enjoying the great outdoors, or without our eyes glued to some electronically powered screen. It turns out the national average of time spent outdoors is just 5 percent a day. 

In fact, you can say that we've been so caught up with our modern life that even going outside without our phones has become a novelty. 

More from CafeMom: 7 Tips for Hiking With Children & Actually Having Fun

Cue "forest bathing." Now sweeping across the United States, forest bathing is a Japanese meditative practice that's convincing Americans to finally unplug and immerse themselves in nature in order to improve their well-being. 

Japan made forest bathing, or "shinrin-yoku" in Japanese, part of its national health program in 1982 (before smartphones even captured all of your attention), hoping to encourage people to reconnect with nature. The country even has designated forest-pathing trails. 

Now there are Meetup groups and even guides to help Americans get outside. In fact, the Associations of Nature & Forest Therapy hopes to get 1,000 trained and certified forest bathing guides out in the next three years. 

More from CafeMom: 6 Reasons Your Kid Should Play Outside, According to Science

"Forest bathing could be considered a form of medicine," Philip Barr, a physician of integrative medicine at Duke University, told NPR. "And the benefits of nature can be accessed so simply."

It may sound obvious but nature has a slew of health benefits, including lowered levels of stress and depression, as well as better physical health. Breathing in trees could literally help lower blood pressure

walking nature forest bathing
Syda Productions/Shutterstock

During forest bathing -- which isn't *technically* considered hiking because that involves physical exertion as well as a planned path and destination -- people reconnect with nature by touching leaves, lying down in the grass, and smelling the fresh air.

But to be honest, these activities are age-old. The great outdoors has always been right outside our doors, but maybe it just took a new trend to really convince us to do it. The point is, get outside! 

Read More >