Forest Bathing – Vancouver Style

Solitude on the Trail Photo: Rob Weiss

Recently, I read an interesting and compelling article on a new health trend called Forest Bathing. Being an outdoorsy type and nature lover, whenever I see or hear the word “forest” my curiosity peeks! Fascinated, I decided to learn more about the Japanese practice of Forest Therapy. Developed in the 1980’s, Forest Bathing or Shinrin-yoku is the medicine of simply being in the forest. Widely recognized as a pillar of preventative health care, folk around the world are seeking their nature fix.

Moss covered trees Photo: Rob Weiss

As I learned more about the therapeutic aspects of a simple walk in the trees, it occurred to me that I have been soaking up the sights and sounds of the forest atmosphere my entire life. Fortunately, with nature as its backdrop, Vancouver is the ideal location for those wanting to join me and escape the “cubicle” to reap the rewards of time in the great outdoors. From Stanley Park to Pacific Spirit Park and the majestic North Shore Mountains escaping to the rain forest is easily within our reach.

Kennedy Falls Photo: Flickr Colin Knowles

The calming and restorative effects of time in nature are plentiful. Data suggests that people who regularly participate in forest bathing have lower blood pressure, heart rates and reduced stress levels. Immune function is increased, and anxiety levels lessen. Of course, to be effective your forest bath must be a slow and leisurely outing. Put away your fitness tracker, and forget about steps, heart rate and distance covered. Take time to stop and smell the roses, or Giant Cedars as the case may be. Listen, observe, feel, contemplate and perhaps meditate! Engage your sense of awe and wonder, for Forest Bathing can be more than a health trend, it can become a way of life.

Hiking Vancouver’s North Shore Photo: Rob Weiss

Interested in practising Forest Bathing in Vancouver? Put on your hiking boots and immerse yourself in our spectacular west coast forests:

  • Stanley Park – Although most visitors gravitate toward our world-famous seawall, Stanley Park offers more than 27 km of forest trails. Cedar, Fir and Hemlock trees tower above, inviting exploration of this majestic urban forest.
  • Pacific Spirit Park – Established in 1989, this natural forest preserve covers 763 hectares. Over 50 km of trails await those wanting to immerse themselves in a forest chock-full of magnificent Cedar, Hemlock, Douglas Fir and Sitka Spruce trees.
  • Vancouver’s North Shore – Opportunities for Forest Bathing abound on Vancouver’s North Shore! From an easy stroll in Lynn Canyon Park to an epic journey along the Baden-Powell trail, the North Shore Mountains offer ultimate forest bathing experiences.

Vancouver’s Urban Forests Photo: Rob Weiss

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