I recently started a blog series on balancing hormones naturally.
I have five simple solutions I recommend to women who have issues with hormone health.
I like to call these Hormone Helpers…
And I want to discuss the fifth (and final) one with you today.
Hormone Helper #5: GET OUTSIDE IN NATURE AND MOVE
The term forest bathing has made its way to Western societies.
The official term, Shinrin-yoku, literally means “taking in the forest atmosphere.”
There have been numerous studies that detail the benefits of taking time to enjoy nature and breathe its air [1,2,3,4,5,6].
And what’s great is that it only requires as little as 20 minutes a day.
Forest bathing has a number of key benefits. Among them:
- Lower cortisol levels: Nature is soothing so it makes sense that stress levels decrease when you’re out in nature. Scientists discovered individuals had lower cortisol levels when visiting a forested area compared to those who went to a city area [1,3]. Lower stress levels allow hormones in your body to operate correctly and eliminate excess hormones that aren’t needed.
- Improves mood/less anxiety: Spending time in nature allows your “fight or flight” response to decompress, activating what scientists call your parasympathetic nervous system. The more time your body spends in a parasympathetic state, the better your overall health [1,3]. And less anxiety lowers your cortisol levels.
- Strengthens your immune system: A strong immune system can help you fight off infections. Elevated cortisol levels can also impact your immune system, making it weaker and more susceptible to illness. But forest bathing can help with this too. Researchers discovered that spending time in nature had a positive effect on your immune system, strengthening the natural killer activity in your body, providing the individual with increased protection and ability to fight off viruses and bacteria . Even better, these positive effects of the immune system lasted for 30 days!
Remember: this practice should be an activity you look forward to and not something you dread.
Movement helps you burn calories, and helps reverse some of the impacts of high cortisol levels.
Western societies employ a number of professions that require sitting at a desk all day with very little movement.
An easy solution to break up the monotony of the day is to walk around every hour for a few minutes so you can keep your body active instead of stagnant and stiff.
And you’ll be amazed how fast your steps are completed when you start a new (and easy) habit of walking around your office while you’re at work every day.
Or even get your partner or children involved in the evenings and weekends.
Even taking steps during commercial breaks can start to add up too.
Hot tip: use your time in nature to check off those steps, and get the most use of your time. I know as a busy woman you have a lot to get done in a single day, but taking time for yourself allows you to be the best version of you so you can help others around you.
I’m going to wrap up this series next time…
But until then, take the time to implement these five hormone helpers.
Your hormones (and health) will thank you.
***If you want to know more about nutrition and hormone health, I go in much more detail in my program, Best of You. What you eat has such a profound effect on your body, and especially your hormones, that I spend much more time going over the solutions to better hormone health inside my program.
ReferencesPark BJ, Tsunetsugu Y, Kasetani T, Kagawa T, Miyazaki Y. The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environ Health Prev Med. 2010 Jan;15(1):18-26. doi: 10.1007/s12199-009-0086-9. PMID: 19568835; PMCID: PMC2793346. Keniger LE, Gaston KJ, Irvine KN, Fuller RA. What are the benefits of interacting with nature? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Mar 6;10(3):913-35. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10030913. PMID: 23466828; PMCID: PMC3709294. Yau KK, Loke AY. Effects of forest bathing on pre-hypertensive and hypertensive adults: a review of the literature. Environ Health Prev Med. 2020 Jun 22;25(1):23. doi: 10.1186/s12199-020-00856-7. PMID: 32571202; PMCID: PMC7310560. Antonelli M, Donelli D, Carlone L, Maggini V, Firenzuoli F, Bedeschi E. Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on individual well-being: an umbrella review. Int J Environ Health Res. 2022 Aug;32(8):1842-1867. doi: 10.1080/09603123.2021.1919293. Epub 2021 Apr 28. PMID: 33910423. Ideno Y, Hayashi K, Abe Y, Ueda K, Iso H, Noda M, Lee JS, Suzuki S. Blood pressure-lowering effect of Shinrin-yoku (Forest bathing): a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Aug 16;17(1):409. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1912-z. PMID: 28814305; PMCID: PMC5559777. Berman MG, Jonides J, Kaplan S. The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychol Sci. 2008 Dec;19(12):1207-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02225.x. PMID: 19121124. Li Q. Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environ Health Prev Med. 2010 Jan;15(1):9-17. doi: 10.1007/s12199-008-0068-3. PMID: 19568839; PMCID: PMC2793341.