Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Forest Walks May Boost Immunity By 46%

Read this in Men's Health, December, 2008 -

"You may finally have a legitimate reason to hug a tree. A hike in the woods can boost your immunity, say Japanese researchers. They found that men who walked through a forest for a total of 6 hours over 2 days eperienced a 46% spoke in their blood levels of natural killer cells, which are part of your body's SWAT team against invading viruses. Apparently, all trees release airborne chemicals called phytoncides that not only proptest their foliage from microbes, but also help to stimulate our own immunity systems."

There is also scientific studies showing that "forest bathing" (ie, taking a walk in the forest) boosts immune systems through the reduction of stress.

So if you're looking for another excuse to do a long run, just remember it's boosting your immune system! Good stuff.

- SD

[photo courtesy of Marc Soller]


  1. BTW, Stinson Beach 50k report coming shortly! - SD

  2. I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but it does necessarily follow from this study that long runs in the woods boost immunity. It's quite possible that a nice, calming walk in the woods could be of benefit, while the additional miles or higher intensity of running could temporarily lower your immune response. I'm not saying that's the case, just that the study doesn't provide any evidence one way or the other.

    Ok, perhaps I should get out from behind my desk and go for a nice calming run... I might feel better. ;-)

  3. You're right, I'm stretching it a bit to go from "walks" to "runs", especially on the second story which is all about calmness. It may not be calming for many to jump over roots and rocks. ;-)

    So maybe it's best to walk to counteract all that immune-crushing running.


  4. As an ultramarathon, I salute you for finding yet another reason to walk! ;-)

  5. So that's why I wused-out and walked the last couple of miles tonight. It was good for my immune system.
    So I wonder - is it just trees taht give off these chemicals, or do all plants? Maybe jsut because trees are bigger they give off more?
    interesting stuff.

  6. I knew there was a reason why I was doing my 100 milers in 30 hrs, instead of 18. yeah, yeah my immune system. interesting article.


  7. So now I have a scientific explanation about my addiction. Glad to know that it's not just me and my love for the trails...

  8. So, yesterday I woke up getting water brash, and took an antinauseal before I started heaving like my whole family was during the weekend. After sleeping 4 hours and feeling KIND OF better, I faced the dilemma of whether to run or not. It was my day off, and I just missed my planned long run.

    Having read this posting a few days earlier, I decided that a short (1 hour) run in the woods WAS in my best interest.

    The run went okay, though I had to run slowly. An hour before I was finished putting my kids to bed, I was dying, the virus reminding me that it hadn't left yet.

    But since I feel GREAT today, obviously no harm done. Thanks for some info that will allow me to behave irrationally in the future!

  9. There are probably psychological benefits to walking in the woods as well. Trees are just positive, soulful beings. Btw I love this blog! You go man!


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