The Intrepid Explorer - July 8

Dan Abernathy, local columnist
Posted 7/7/22

Exposure to the natural world is not about the frequency and duration spent in green space, or really where you live; it's whether you use it or not.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

The Intrepid Explorer - July 8


There is a unique healing effect when surrounded within the company of trees. You absorb this effect while sitting with your back leaning against a grounding trunk. But, it is more intense when you quiet the mind, wrap your arms around one and fully feel all that there is to feel. Being with trees is simple therapy, moments of healing that arrive even before any physical touch. The scents of trees are a natural immune boost, something that should be inhaled daily. 

In today’s new world order of plastic and self-inflicted chaos, where the new fabricated frontier is systematically and deceptively created mayhem of virtual reality. In this fictitious life saturated with the scent of urban odors, we must never forget the power of nature and natural aromas. It has been time proven that the smells of nature and being in nature contributes to good physical and mental health.

Research has shown that viewing natural scenes will lower your heart rate and restore focus. Both of which are important for battling physical and mental health disorders.  Bottom line is, time spent in nature is good for you.

Tall trees with thick, lush canopies stretch as far as the eye can see. There’s a slight breeze blowing, birds are singing, and there’s a faint smell of forest. For a moment, people experiencing the scene are in the moment, they are mindfully alive and need to stay here, even when you are not. It’s rebooting and refueling the natural aspects of who you are.

Most of us sense that immersing ourselves in a forest is good for us. We take a break from the rush of our daily lives to enjoy the beauty and peace of being in a natural setting. Research has shown that even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health. Think of it as a prescription with no negative side effects that’s also free.

Numerous studies in the U.S. and abroad explore the health benefits of spending time outside in nature, green spaces and specifically, forests. Recognizing those benefits, in 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries even coined a term for it: shinrin-yoku. It means taking in the forest atmosphere or “Forest Bathing,” and the ministry encourages people to visit forests to relieve stress and improve health.

Exposure to forests boosts our immune system. While we breathe in the fresh air, we breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities, which help plants fight disease. When people breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells or NK. These cells kill tumor and virus-infected cells in our bodies. In one study, increased NK activity from a three-day, two-night Forest Bathing trip lasted for more than 30 days. Japanese researchers are currently exploring whether exposure to forests can help prevent certain kinds of cancer.

Using the Profile of Mood States test, researchers found that Forest Bathing trips significantly decreased the scores for anxiety, depression, anger, confusion and fatigue. And because stress inhibits the immune system, the stress-reduction benefits of forests are further magnified.

In children, attention fatigue causes an inability to pay attention and control impulses. The part of the brain affected by attention fatigue is also involved in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Studies show that children who spend time in natural outdoor environments have a reduction in attention fatigue and children diagnosed with ADHD show a reduction in related symptoms.

Mother Nature needs the respect she deserves when it comes to human health. For decades, scientists and health-care professionals have recognized that exposure to green spaces is linked with lowering risks of many ailments common in the developed world – cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and mental distress, even mortality.

Experimental work has demonstrated myriad physiological responses that occur when people spend time in natural environments: Blood pressure drops, heart rate decreases, immune function improves, and the parasympathetic nervous system directs the body to rest and digest.

As humans increasingly populate urbanized areas, they are forfeiting time in natural environments, which is detrimental to their health, wellbeing and seeming mental capacity. I do not believe there is any need to question how much time is needed inhaling life from a natural environment. 

Exposure to the natural world is not about the frequency and duration spent in green space, or really where you live; it’s whether you use it or not. The standing rule I believe we all should live with is if you think you need 10 minutes, spend an hour. If you think an hour would help, take the day. - dbA

– You can find more of the unfiltered insight of Dan Abernathy at and please SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube Channel, The Intrepid Explorer.