Improve health and performance with Forest bathing (at the office)

Meyken Houppermans, PhD. CrossFit Level 3 Trainer.
Founder and Head Coach
Desk jobs increase the risk of chronic disease and premature death. Forest bathing lowers health risks and improves work performance. The Dutch have the dubious honor of being European champion sitting all day.

Desk jobs are health risks

Sitting all day doubles the risk of muskuloskeletal issues such as shoulder, neck and lower back pain; chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and premature death. Exercising every day does not compensate the negative impact of sitting, although it is better than doing nothing at all.

The Dutch population is headlining sitting, with over 8,5 hours per day. People who sit more than 8 hours a day and do little exercise are 74% more likely to get cardiovascular disease than people who sit less than 4 hours a day and exercise a lot. Sitting more than 8 hours a day leads to 27% more risk of premature death compared to sitting less than 4 hours a day.[1]

Health benefits of Forest Bathing

Forest-bathing (Shinrin- yoku in Japanese) means: Spending time in nature and “breathing in the volatile substances released by trees.”

Research shows that spending time in the forest (without any distractions) seems to have positive effects on mental and physical wellbeing. It reduces symptoms related to life- and work stress ; as well as feelings of depression or burnout symptoms. It also improves mood and feelings about the quality of life.

Forest bathing seems to contribute to strengthening cognitive functions which improves work performance; and immune system. It lowers blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. It seems to contribute to pain treatment and recovery after surgery. For diabetic patients it helps to lower blood sugar levels. [2]

Forest Bathing at the office

In the absence of a forest, it is still possible to benefiot from the positive effects of forst bathing by stimulating senses in a similar way. This can be organised at home and for example as a company service at the office:

  • Find a quiet place where you can spend 10 to 15 minutes without being disturbed
  • Turn that place into a mini-forest with plants, natural day light, fresh air, and optionally fragrance sticks with pine aroma and the sound of rain or nature
  • Focus on the here and now, experience and live through all sensory stimuli
  • Schedule spending time in this mini- forest, to create a healthy habit

Create your own health! ©


[1] Daneshmandi H, Choobineh A, Ghaem H, Karimi M. Adverse Effects of Prolonged Sitting Behavior on the General Health of Office Workers. J Lifestyle Med. 2017 Jul;7(2):69-75. doi: 10.15280/jlm.2017.7.2.69. Epub 2017 Jul 31. PMID: 29026727; PMCID: PMC5618737.; Dunstan DW, Howard B, Healy GN, Owen N. Too much sitting--a health hazard. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2012 Sep;97(3):368-76. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2012.05.020. Epub 2012 Jun 9. PMID: 22682948.; Health Council; Sedentary behavior and risk of chronic diseases, background document to Dutch Physical Activity Guidelines 2017, The Hague.; TNO. (27 febr 2024). Nederland Europees Kampioen zitten.

[2] Furuyashiki A, Tabuchi K, Norikoshi K, Kobayashi T, Oriyama S. A comparative study of the physiological and psychological effects of forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku) on working age people with and without depressive tendencies. Environ Health Prev Med. 2019 Jun 22;24(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s12199-019-0800-1. PMID: 31228960; PMCID: PMC6589172.; Hansen MM, Jones R, Tocchini K. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Jul 28;14(8):851. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14080851. PMID: 28788101; PMCID: PMC5580555.; Li Q. Effects of forest environment (Shinrin-yoku/Forest bathing) on health promotion and disease prevention -the Establishment of "Forest Medicine". Environ Health Prev Med. 2022;27:43. doi: 10.1265/ehpm.22-00160. PMID: 36328581; PMCID: PMC9665958.