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In today’s fast-paced world of screens and schedules, it’s easy to miss the importance of reconnecting with nature and its many benefits. Outdoor activities in nature such as hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, biking, or just sitting outside can help. But the most noticeable benefits come from prolonged exposure to natural beauty. Here are some of the health benefits of camping.
Albert Einstein famously said: “If you look deeply into nature, you will understand everything better.”
Camping… for your health?
A camping trip may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ways to improve your health, but it probably should.
benefits of camping
Not only is it a great budget-friendly family activity, Going camping offers a unique way To reconnect with nature. Plus, this simple and fun activity is backed by research.
1. Light therapy for circadian rhythm
A 2013 study from the University of Colorado Boulder investigated how camping affects natural circadian rhythms. They found that participants who camped for a week noticed significant improvements in their sleep patterns.
Sleep researcher Dr. Michael Bruce explains that camping (away from artificial light) for a week resets your circadian clock. More specifically, the study found that:
- Campers’ melatonin levels rose two hours earlier during camp than during normal nights around artificial light.
- All study participants’ sleep schedules were normalized in a natural environment. In fact, early risers and night owls all adapt to the same schedule.
Serious health problems (from heart disease to cancer) are often associated with poor sleep quality or lack of sleep. Simple activities like camping can help normalize your body’s sleep cycle and improve your health.
2. Relieve stress with forest bathing
Japanese people have a national custom called “forest bathing”. Seriously.this is It has been a national public health practice for them since the 1980s. The Japanese have spent millions of dollars studying the effects of this period on nature, resulting in a startling discovery.
- Spending a weekend in the woods naturally increases the presence of natural killer (NK) cells in your body. This increase lasted for up to a month after a weekend in nature.
- Forest air contains phytoncides, natural compounds from plants and trees. Some studies have shown that inhaling phytoncide improves immune system function.
- Forest bathing is also effective in relieving stress. Another study found that just 30 minutes a day in nature improved cortisol, blood pressure, and other health markers. Spending a day in the woods releases stress and activates your parasympathetic nervous system, rather than spending a day in the city. Nature time also helps lower sympathetic activity, which reduces stress levels.
3. Better sleep
As mentioned above, camping away from artificial light improves your circadian clock. Logically, your sleep will also improve.
Admittedly, sleeping on the ground in a thin sleeping bag doesn’t seem like the perfect way to relax. However, research shows that people can get deeper, more restorative sleep in nature. One factor may be that people aren’t staying up late watching TV while camping. This alone improves sleep and increases melatonin production.
You also get 8 hours of grounding to reset your body’s natural electric field. It may not be as comfortable as your mattress at home. However, biological sleep quality may be improved.
4. Unplugged time and family time
One of my favorite parts of the camping experience is spending time with my family away from technology. Sure, we all know that we should put our phones down and spend more time with our loved ones. However, this can be difficult to do when you’re caught up in your daily routine.
Each of my kids has a quality hiking backpack with their own gear. If it’s your first time camping or you’re just looking for ideas, check out our gear checklist. My kids love going camping and have the opportunity to use it all.
5. A breath of fresh air
Another tangible advantage of camping is the abundance of fresh air. Experts warn that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. They encourage frequent ventilation of the house by opening windows. Being outdoors, especially overnight, is a great way to reap the benefits of fresh air. Areas with a lot of trees have a higher concentration of oxygen in the environment. This will help you breathe easier and relax.
6. Exercise in natural beauty
One of the best things about camping? Natural boredom. Without TVs, video games, and other distractions in our homes, we actually want to explore. This naturally leads to physical activity in a high oxygen, natural light environment, making movement even more beneficial. This has a net positive effect on our physical health and overall health.
Camping activities such as swimming and kayaking in the sun also provide vitamin D.
7. Mental Health Benefits
Camping not only reduces stress but also improves mental health. When we’re tired and our circadian rhythms aren’t working well, it’s bad for our mental health. As a society, our heavy use of social media and electronic devices has its downsides as well. In addition, there is the stress and busyness of everyday life.
Camping is good for your mental health as it frees you from many stressors and distractions. You can learn new skills like foraging and building shelters. These problem-solving activities help foster creativity and nurture brain cells. Now all that’s left to worry about is starting the campfire.
Ready to spend some time in the great outdoors? Here are some tips for getting the most out of it.
- get rid of artificial light: Every study points to the greatest benefit of camping away from all artificial lights, including flashlights. Use natural light sources such as campfires, candles, and natural lanterns to avoid bright LED flashlights.
- smartphone: It’s very easy to take out the electronics. Especially if it’s portable and easy to grab. Stop scrolling through social media, watching videos, and using your smartphone unnecessarily while on the go.
- cooking natural food: Don’t let camping be an excuse to eat s’mores. Unless, of course, it’s made with homemade marshmallows or healthy ingredients. and other junk food. Campfires are great for grilling whole foods such as meats, vegetables and fruits. My kids love campfire baked apples. Here’s a full list of healthy camping cooking ideas.
- Long Stay: Studies have shown that camping for 3 or more days is the most effective. Plan a week-long family vacation and enjoy all the benefits.
- get good gear: There’s nothing worse than being trapped in a leaky tent in a rainstorm. Invest in good camping gear and it will last for years.
How to Reap (Some) of the Benefits of Camping While Staying at Home
I know several people who adamantly reject camping despite all its benefits. They hate the idea of bravely challenging Mother Nature. If a team of wild horses can’t pull you away from the comfort of your home, there are a few things you can do to get the benefits of camping.
- reduce artificial light: One of the greatest benefits of being outdoors is being free from artificial lighting. Even if you’re not ready to sleep in the woods, you can manipulate blue light in your home to improve your health. Use an orange spectral light lamp at night. I also wear blue light blocking glasses after dark to reduce my exposure to blue light.
- clean the air: Another advantage of being outdoors is the abundance of fresh air. Keep your indoor air clean with these tips.
- get enough sleep: Many of the benefits of camping come from getting more sleep. This is one health tip that all experts seem to agree on. Plus, it’s free in most cases. Prioritize sleep and make time to get enough sleep. Here are some tips for improving your sleep.
Does your family enjoy camping? Do you have a favorite campground? Leave a comment and share below!