My wife does a great job of watching out for me. In fact, she does a better job of keeping me healthy than I do! She also does a great job of keeping me informed about health and vitality, so it was no surprise when I found a page she’d torn from Experience Life magazine sitting on top of my “stack of stuff” at home. The circled news article is titled, “How Forests Boost Immunity.”
The short piece detailed research that shows spending time in nature lowers blood pressure, pulse rate and levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, as well as boosting your immune system.
In a study in Japan, 12 healthy men between the ages of 37 and 55 took a 3-day trip into a forest. On the first day the men spent 2 hours in the afternoon walking in the forest. On the second day they walked in the forest for 2 hours in the morning and 2 more hours in the afternoon. Blood samples tested on days 2 and 3 showed than in 11 of the 12 men there was a 50 percent increase in natural “killer” cells. These cells are one of the main components of the immune system and play a central role in fighting tumors and viruses.
The Experience Life article went on to say, “Researchers believe that the increase in natural killer cells is in part a response to phytonocides, the essential oils in wood that help protect it from insects and rotting.” They also said that the immune benefits from a trip in the woods can last for up to a month after exposure!
Six hours in the woods over the course of 3 days can do all that? If it’s true, NAHC members ought never to get sick again! But wait … was that a faint cough? I need to get back into the woods … now!