Stimulation, anxiolytic properties… Six good reasons to take a walk in the forest

Stimulation, anxiolytic properties... Six good reasons to take a walk in the forest

With the holidays and the mild weather of the past few days, there is no excuse not to treat yourself to a breath of fresh air. And especially a walk in the forest. That’s good, walking in a green space is very good for your health. In the show Well done for youMélanie Gomez and Julia Vignali received the naturalist Marc Giraud and the editorial director of Philosophy MagazineAlexandre Lacroix, to discuss some of the many benefits of hiking in the forest.

Stir up your creativity

First of all, entering a green place stirs up our creativity, explains Alexandre Lacroix, also author of In the heart of wounded nature. “When we enter the forest, an impression that comes to us is the proliferation of forms, the creativity in forms and colors”, he notes, drawing the comparison with the city or in the houses, “where we are in geometric spaces, in parallelepipeds that are our bedrooms, our living rooms”.

Awaken our senses

The naturalist Marc Giraud affirms at the microphone of Europe 1 that the forest allows us to awaken our senses, in particular the sense of smell, “the most primitive of our senses”. “When you smell, for example, jasmine or honeysuckle, for me, it’s the smell of paradise. There is a universe, just with the nose”, explains the author of the Happiness is in nature. Marc Giraud also offers a little experience for children: during an outing in nature, he blindfolds them to help them awaken their senses.

Stimulate children more

Besides, taking your children to a forest is much more stimulating than leaving them all day in front of a screen. “My slogan is ‘kick them out’!” quipped the naturalist. “Many experiments show that children who are too stuck in front of screens make less elaborate drawings. They are two or three years late because they have less observation.”

Conversely, “when they go into nature, when they are in contact with three dimensions, they experience the possibilities of their body”, supports Marc Giraud. “It’s very important to make cabins, to climb trees, to wade in streams, to observe ants… It’s reconnection.”

Anxiolytic virtues

The naturalist also confirms that a walk in a natural environment, among animals, brings anxiolytic properties. He tells of a practice that was widespread in China, with crickets. “The ladies of the imperial palace of ancient China put house crickets in small cages, which they put under the pillow. It is probably the first anxiolytic that was invented. The small cricri of the insect, it’s very relaxing.”

Fight against mental illnesses

To combat mental illnesses, in particular bipolar disorders or depression, walking among the trees can help restore feelings of well-being. This is sylvotherapy, very common for example in Japan. “There have been studies for 20-30 years on these questions. It has been shown that when we integrate into care pathways the possibility of hiking, walking, immersing ourselves in nature, we will have fairly clear improvements in the condition of patients”, says Alexandre Lacroix, the editorial director of Philosophy Magazine.

Strengthen your immune system

Also in Japan, many studies on forest baths highlight the fact that “stress goes away, and that the immune defenses are boosted by what the trees give off”, assures Marc Giraud. “There are a whole bunch of essential oils that they use to defend themselves against bacteria. There are also scientific explanations for all this,” adds the naturalist.

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