In the midst of navigating through uncertain times and all the changes that have impacted our daily lives, taking a walk in the woods is one thing you can still do. Not only will you come away with a deeper connection to our natural environment, but there are some amazing health benefits as well.
A walk in the woods can leave you feeling restored and rejuvenated. Exposure to forests strengthens our immune system, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, increases energy and improves our mood. The Japanese call this shinrin-yoku, which means “forest bathing.”
As Oregonians, we have an abundance of opportunities for getting out into the forest. Nearly half of Oregon is forestland and we are home to 11 national and six state forests. Portland is home to Forest Park, which is one of the largest urban forests in the United States. Eugene is home to Hendricks Park, which provides visitors a chance to walk among 200-year-old Douglas-fir trees, ferns and wildflowers.
However, given the unprecedented crisis we face with the coronavirus outbreak, it’s imperative that while we enjoy the forest, we also adhere to the requirement to maintain physical distance and follow state and local guidelines.
As counties begin to enter Phase I re-opening, please check online before you venture out to your favorite forest hiking trail. There are restrictions in place to limit crowding, and operations could change during the day.
No matter where you live in Oregon, the opportunity to take a walk in the woods – while still maintaining appropriate distancing – is easy to find. Take advantage of this no-cost opportunity to improve your health and well-being.