Bushwalking is really good for you. Sure, it’s relaxing – but it boosts your biology too

Need a quick pick-me-up? Get back to nature.

Not only will a walk in the park rejuvenate, calm and clear your mind, but it also lowers diabetes and heart disease risk, improves mental health and prolongs life.

And while it may seem logical to chalk these benefits up to exercise, it’s not quite as clear-cut as that.

So how does merely being in nature affect us on a biological level?

We have an innate desire to connect to nature called “biophilia,” said Lisa Wood, a public health researcher at the University of Western Australia.

Loads of research into nature’s pick-me-up qualities is conducted in Japan, where “forest bathing”, or shinrin-yoku, is a popular way to unwind.

You keep your clothes on, but otherwise immerse yourself and your senses in nature: run your fingers through the soil, fill your lungs with fresh, sweet air and listen to the rustle and creaks of towering trees.

Qing Li, a clinician and researcher at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo and a forest bather, has led much of the work into what he calls “forest medicine”.

Stress less

Urban life is far from relaxing. There’s the constant auditory onslaught of traffic. Deadlines, people and social media battle for our attention.

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