Runner: Miranda Murphy Location: Mt Revelstoke National Park

Going for a calm, care-free run through the woods and taking in all it’s scenery and smells is an enjoyable experience for many runners all year round. We run through the 12 months of the year and are able to tough it out through the cold, dark days that come in fall or winter. Even when the hottest months are behind us, we take to the trails to experience nature. Oftentimes, that also means going sans watch just to enjoy being out and take the emphasis off of paces. The benefits of doing this of a Saturday afternoon seem infinite. It turns out there has been a term given to that: forest bathing.

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What is forest bathing?

“Forest bathing” seems to be a term that has flying around the fitness community as of late. Should we buy into it or is it just another word for those who speak fluent buzzword?

Well, it’s borrowed from a Japanese term “Shinrin-yoku” which translates to “forest bathing” or “taking in forest atmosphere.” In a nutshell, it’s a calm, meditative walk through a natural area. The intent is to take in the surroundings without necessarily having a destination or end point.

The Washington Post recently dubbed forest bathing as the “latest fitness trend to hit the U.S.” When listing the benefits of the activity, they cited a 2015 study which compared urban walkers to those who took to well-treed areas. It found that adventuring in the forest decreased anxiety and improved cognitive ability and the immune system.

That’s what has led many to think of it as a form of therapy. In fact, there’s even an group for it: the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. For those who really believe in it, can become certified forest therapists. 

Runner athlete running on forest trail.

Getting more time outdoors

To some though, Shinrin-yoku is just called a walk in the woods. But regardless of how you feel about it, there’s no doubt that runners who are looking to spend a little more forest time have plenty of options in Canada. Looking to hit more trails? Check out one of these seven gorgeous Canadian locations, or get lost in one of these top 10 Canadian national parks.

When running on the trails this summer, it’s important to research the route prior, bring more calories than you think you’ll need, wear appropriate gear and have a phone on you if possible. For more trail safety tips, see here.

 


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