Traditionally, humans have sought the restorative benefits of nature in everyday life.
Forest bathing was historically used as a cure for tuberculosis. In the late 1800s, physicians established sanatoriums in the pine forests of Germany, as well as in the Adirondack forests in Upstate New York. All reported benefits from the moist forest air. There was speculation among the physicians of the time that pine trees secreted a healing balm into the air.
Over time, with the increase of industry and modern civilization, we have moved further away from nature and into the hustle and bustle of the city. We largely lost touch with the Earth.
Breathing the natural essences that trees release into the air can actually help boost our immune system, reduce stress levels and lower the risk for heart conditions, skin conditions, and asthma. A 2018 report from the University of East Anglia concluded that exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.
Spending time surrounded by green gardens is a factor in overall health and well-being, according to global data involving more than 290 million people from 20 countries including the UK, the US, Spain, France, Germany, Australia and Japan -- where Shinrin yoku or “forest bathing” is a popular practice.
Another recent study by the journal Scientific Reports, draws upon interviews with around 20,000 people in England about their contact with the natural world in the previous week.
Nearly half of the people who spent little or no time in parks, beaches or woods reported low satisfaction with life and one-fourth said their health was poor. In comparison, of those who spent at least two hours in the natural world, only one-third self-reported as dissatisfied and one in seven reported poor health.
According to June Gruber, a professor at University of Colorado Boulder's department of psychology and neuroscience, the report "suggests that nature is not simply a luxury -- or something to do once a year on a vacation -- but an essential element of our ability to thrive on a daily basis as humans... it reminds us of the need to preserve and take care of our critical environment around us."