At first sight, forest bathing (or shinrin yoku) and backcountry skiing would not have much in common. When combined, though, they provide something truly special—a chance to refresh body and mind in ways that neither could have achieved separately.
Skiing in the backcountry, or off-piste, is venturing off groomed runs and into untracked terrain, usually after a hike or climb up the side of a mountain. This style of skiing is a great way to get in shape while also satisfying your thirst for adventure and independence. The Journal of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine reported that backcountry skiing increased the subjects' aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and coordination (1).
However, shinrin yoku, also known as forest bathing, involves spending time in the forest with the goal of enhancing one's health and happiness. Walking in the woods, taking in the fresh air and the sounds of nature are all great ways to do this. To improve mental health, shinrin yoku has been demonstrated to provide a number of benefits (2).
When you mix backcountry skiing with shinrin yoku, you get something very special and transformative. Cross-training and nature immersion: backcountry skiing has it all. Combining exercise with time spent in nature has been shown to have positive effects on mental health and decrease depressive symptoms, per research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (3).
In addition, both backcountry skiing and shinrin yoku provide a chance to escape from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with nature and the present moment. Journal of Affective Disorders research indicated that time spent in natural settings improved attention and focus, which in turn reduced depressive and anxious feelings (4).
In essence, the synergy between backcountry skiing and shinrin yoku is a powerful tool for enhancing one's emotional and physical health. Backcountry skiing is a great way to get in shape and enjoy nature while reaping the mental health advantages of shinrin yoku at the same time.
Among the authors of this work are Jones and Wilson (2018). Health and wellness advantages of backcountry skiing and snowboarding. 28(4):442-452 in the Journal of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.
The authors of this paper are: Li, Q., Morimoto, K., Nakamura, M., Kagawa, T., and Li, Y. (2015). The Japanese practise of shinrin-yoku, sometimes known as "forest bathing," has been shown to have positive effects on one's health, and this article reviews the available data. Public and Preventive Medicine, Vol. 20(l), Pages 18–26.
Miyazaki, Y.; Ikei, H.; Kasetani, T.; Kagawa, T.; Park, B. J.; Tsunetsugu, Y.; (2010). Research conducted in 24 different Japanese woods provides physiological proof for the practise of Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing). The Journal of Environmental and Preventive Medicine 15(1):18-26.
According to the research of Bratman, N. G., Hamilton, J. P., Hahn, K. S., Daily, G. C., Gross, J. J., and Solberg, E. J. (2015). Positive effects on mood and brain function after spending time in nature. Planning for Landscape and Urban Environments 138:41–50.