Friluftsliv…Shinrin-yoku…Forest Bathing: The Language of Getting Out in Nature

July 16, 2019 by Beth Seibel

Friluftsliv! Shinrin-yoku? What?! These are Scandinavian and Japanese terms, respectively, expressing the benefits of getting out in nature.

A bit difficult to pronounce (free-loofts-liv—if you were wondering), friluftsliv as a concept is actually pretty straightforward. The word translates to “free-air life” or “open-air living,” and that gets to the heart of what friluftsliv is. It’s all about going out into nature as a way to improve your physical, spiritual, and mental well-being," wrote Dani Howell in her June 1, 2019 post on AHAlife’s blog “Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy to Boost Well-Being."

“Shinrin-yoku is a term that means "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing." It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world," as explained by the website shinrin yoku.

The benefits of spending time in nature are well-documented and indisputable in any language. The Association of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides & Programs and the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine provide an array of resources including articles and scientific studies confirming the positive effects on our health and wellness. You may also link to a study from the journal Environmental health and preventive medicine for additional in-depth information.

Now that we know the value of spending time in nature, it’s time to get out and do a little “forest bathing!" The Frick Environmental Center offers opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to boost their health and wellness. Here are just a few of the programs we offer to spend time among the trees:

  • Restorative Hikes: These hikes are held once per month through October. They are free to attend and are designed to be slow-paced on easy-to-moderate terrain, lasting for about an hour and a half, and are suitable for all ages. The August 11 hike will be led by Native American couple, Earl and Lee Dingus. For complete details and to register visit https://www.pittsburghparks.org/park-events. September and October dates to be determined. Watch the events calendar for more information.
  • Full Moon Hike:  Enjoy a free moonlit stroll through Frick Park, led by a naturalist. This relaxing one-hour hike is designed to connect participants to the cycles in nature and the seasonal phenomena each month brings. Adults and teens are welcome. These hikes are monthly with the next scheduled for August 16.
  • Jr. Garden Buds:  Developed especially for 3 to 8 year olds, these free events encourage kids to explore and learn about gardens and the surrounding environment. Join us for “Sensational Salsa” on August 10.
  • Nature Play Date:  One of our naturalist educators will lead your 3 to 8 year olds in playful activities to help them learn and grow. Upcoming dates are August 25 and September 29.
  • First Friday Nature Walk and Third Friday Fitness Hike: These are designed for folks over age 50, but all who are 18 and over are welcome. These free walks are not strenuous; however, expect some ups and downs with our hilly terrain. Scheduled for the first and third Fridays each month, be sure to dress for the weather.

There are a variety of opportunities for “forest bathing” at the Frick Environmental Center. For complete details or to register for any Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy events, visit https://www.pittsburghparks.org/park-events. Whether you join our organized events or you visit and do your own thing, you are sure to enjoy the beneficial effects of the parks’ soothing beauty.

 

 

 

References

AHAlife, D. H. (2019, June 1). Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy to Boost Well-Being. Retrieved July 6, 2019, from https://www.ahalife.com/the-good-guide/post/5920/friluftsliv-the-scandinavian-philosophy-to-boost-well-being?utm_source=AHA_7x_A_Week&utm_campaign=f5e84ec6bb-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_06_04_07_52&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a86a7e580e-f5e84ec6bb-104463369&goal=0_a86a7e580e-f5e84ec6bb-104463369&mc_cid=f5e84ec6bb&mc_eid=0a6159981f

Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T., & Miyazaki, Y. (2010). The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 18–26. doi:10.1007/s12199-009-0086-9

Yoku Forest Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved July 6, 2019, from http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html