International Day of Forests: 6 reasons to go for a walk in the woods

It sounds far-fetched, but there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that spending time in the woods has huge health benefits.

Celebrated on the 21 March every year, the UN’s International Day of Forests seeks to remind the global community of the benefits of forests.

Taking a walk in the woods is a great way to combat the stresses of modern urban living. There are also a number of health benefits attached to “forest bathing” – indeed, in Japan it is considered standard preventative medicine.

Dr Saima Latif, a chartered psychologist, says that even looking at pictures can help: “Just viewing a forest scene has been documented to have a very positive effect on psychological healing and recovering from stress.”

Rhaeadr near Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, early morning light in Powys, Wales

The psychologist, who consults for Forest Holidays, adds that the benefits come into play,  “particularly for individuals, who are from busy cities or urbanised environments.” Any city dweller can see the sense in that; it’s why the great city planners of the 19th century ensured that they always strived to include plentiful green space in their designs.

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Here are some fine reasons to go for a walk in the woods today:

Improve your psychological health

The forest environment can impact quite positively upon psychological health and well-being; both emotional and cognitive health. It sounds ‘new-agey’, but Forestry Commission research has borne this out.

Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant, Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfalls, Berwyn Mountains, Powys, Wales

Lower your blood pressure, reduce your stress

Forests can help to lower blood pressure by reducing stress and helping to improve mental health. The forest environment lowers your blood pressure and reduces your levels of stress hormones. It can even help children with ADHD, according to latest research.

Hallerbos Forest, Belgium

Help stave off diabetes and heart disease

Being in the forest apparently increases your levels of serum adiponectin (a hormone), which helps prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Once again, this sounds far-fetched: but the research comes from the Japanese government.

Early morning light in Sherwood Forest, Blidworth Nottinghamshire England

Improve your energy and focus

Connecting with the environment makes use more relaxed as human beings, more energised and more focused on those things in life that are more important to us.

Stone Forest, China

Appreciate the things you take for granted

Connecting with nature, will make us appreciate humanity more, particularly those who mean something to us and whom we may have neglected or taken for granted in the past.

Croe Water flowing beneath fresh spring leaves of beech and sycamore Ardgartan Scotland.


Well, obviously. Unless you insist on merely driving a car through the woods rather than walking through them.

Loch Lubnaig from Beinn an t-Sidhein, Strathyre, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Stirlingshire