Tree climbing: The recreational activity for improving mental health and wellbeing

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Rachel Hepworth


There has been a rise in 'forest bathing' in the south, as people aim to spend more time outdoors.

The practice is most common in Japan and it involves spending time in woodland around trees.

Tree therapy is said to be a good way to practice mindfulness Credit: ITV Meridian

In Bursledon in Hampshire, a group of local residents frequently go tree climbing, seeing it as the perfect antidote to cabin fever.

Syd Howells has been climbing trees professionally for over a decade.

A tree has a personality, they are all different. They communicate in so many ways if you are open to that. It sounds a little bit woo woo but there is an awful lot of science behind it.

Syd Howells, Tree climber

Before he climbs a tree, Syd talks to the tree and asks for its permission for it to be climbed.

He said: "As soon as you leave the ground you can feel transported."

Tree therapy is a very popular recreational activity in countries like Japan Credit: ITV Meridian

One of Syd's clients, Leila Hyde, said tree climbing has been a revelation for her after lockdown.

Leila is usually "petrified of heights" but said she's now "determined" to get to the top.

While tree climbing won't be for everyone, it is a good way to practice mindfulness and socially-distance.


Dr Maret Dymond-Bassett, Clinical psychologist and mindfulness expert said nature is "tremendously healing".

Being in nature is tremendously healing and there's plenty of research that shows the benefits of nature physiologically, on the body and psychologically. In fact in Japan, they prescribe it for mental health.

Dr Maret Dymond-Bassett, Clinical psychologist & mindfulness expert