Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Walking Towards Wellness

Walking Towards Wellness

TTP Campus

There are few things I enjoy more than a good walk, either in my neighborhood, at the Texas Tech University Recreation Center (when the weather is unpleasant), and my favorite, the New Mexico woods and mountains. Most people can take a walk in their neighborhood, which is free. 

A New York Times article by Amitha Kalaichandran, M.D., caught my eye.  The author calls walking “forest bathing.” Don’t let that name throw you, it is just walking through the woods and observing what you see, hear, smell and experience. This can be done alone or with a small group of people. Dr. Kalaichandran recommends using all five senses to become deeply immersed in the experience. When I volunteered with scouting, we did this just for fun— yet, we didn’t have a fancy name for it. Henry David Thoreau may be the most famous American walker. Thoreau, who in his famous essay wrote about walking roughly 200 miles from Manhattan to Concord, Massachusetts, recorded the local flora and history of the Northeast. He also reported on his meetings with interesting people and his musings about everything under the sun. Philosophers have to muse!

I didn’t realize (but am not surprised) to read that there is a group called the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, a professional group that has certified more than 300 people across North America to be forest therapy guides, including psychotherapists, nurses and six physicians. Some scientific studies show that spending time in nature, specifically in lush forests, decreases stress and blood pressure, improves heart-rate variability and lowers cortisol levels while boosting one’s mood. That all sounds good.

According to the article, the Northside Hospital Cancer Center in Atlanta began to offer forest therapy as part of a pilot project in collaboration with the Chattahoochee Nature Center, and twelve patients with newly diagnosed cancers signed up for a session. Interesting.

 I realize that some reading this will think — wait a minute — lush forests and Lubbock do not go in the same sentence. Or, it costs too much to travel to nice forests.  But, Texas Tech University has a beautiful campus nearby and a surprising number of trees.  Pretty easy to get there and no entrance fee! Plus, we have many parks in our city.

Have a great week.