Research out of Japan suggests that over and beyond the benefits provided by the exercise of walking and the stress relieving aspects of walking in the woods that can boost the immune system, a walk in the woods may also provide protection against cancer!
Plants emit a chemical called phytoncides that protects them from rotting and insects. When people breathe this in, there is an increase in the level of “natural killer” cells, which are part of a person’s immune response to cancer. For more information visit the articles listed below.
The woods for Stress-relief:
With our busy and fast-paced lifestyles, stress is a major factor in many people’s general feeling of dis-ease. Stress is unavoidable and in many cases a positive driving force. However, once it becomes chronically unchecked, it leads to our decreased resilience and inability to deal with even the most basic ups and downs of life. Contrary to many beliefs, not every seemingly mind numbing activity is truly stress-relieving!
Not helpful: Mindless distractions and electronics
If you want to wind down, stay away from electronic screens as they activate the mind and stimulate brain activity, and someone’s post on facebook or a story on the evening news might cause more stress.
True Stress-relief: Calming of the mind & body
Reading, writing, meditating or reflecting to help calm the mind after a long day. To help calm the body, yoga and breathing exercises are wonderful, as well as of course a walk! Although any walking is good, walking in the woods or in nature has been proven to be even better at reducing stress and improving our health. “When we get to nature, our health improves. Our stress hormones rise all day long in our bloodstream and taking even a few moments while walking to connect with our body will lower those damaging stress hormones. Walking with our family or friends is also a great way to lower our blood pressure and make us happier.” (Michelfelder).
Source: Loyola University Health System.
Research articles on the cancer fighting benefits of walking in the woods: