‘Forest bathing’ or shinrin yoku —spending time in a forest or other green space to reap the health benefits—has become an increasingly popular activity in recent years, especially in some countries, like Japan, which take it pretty seriously. And with good reason—the practice isn’t some new-age form of woo-woo healing; it’s an increasingly well-evidenced health habit that’s garnered a lot of popular and scientific interest in the last few years. A new meta-analysis in the journal Environmental Research finds that people who spend more time in green spaces have significantly reduced risks for a number of chronic illnesses. There are probably several mechanisms behind the connection, but one of the more fascinating ones likely has something to do with phytochemicals that trees emit, and humans breathe in. The researchers, from the University of East Anglia, looked back at data from a slew of earlier studies—103 observational studies and 40 interventional studies. In the latter, different types of interventions were carried out, like assigning people to engage in shinrin yoku (forest bathing) or the equivalent in an urban space. Others looked at post-operative recovery time of people who could see greenery out their hospital window compared to those who could […]


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