Diet & LifestyleHealth

8 Health Benefits of Camping You Didn’t Imagine

Going camping is fun and exciting, and it gives you a chance to enjoy socialization, stimulation and outdoor activity that you don’t experience at home. One of the best things about camping is that it provides mental and physical health benefits. Fresh air, exercise and sunshine are obviously conducive to physical health. But the more subtle rewards include social connection, a lift in mood, and the ability to calm your mind and focus.

Camping Benefits for Mind and Body

1. Wilderness air has a higher oxygen content than city air

The air you breathe in the woods is different than the air in more populous areas. That’s because there are so many plants in the forest. Plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, and that means being around a lot of trees and other vegetation exposes you to oxygen-rich air.

What are the benefits of spending time in the fresh air of the outdoors? They range from cleaner lungs to an improved digestive system. You feel more energetic and clear-headed after spending time outdoors because of the extra oxygen reaching the brain. Fresh air even lowers blood pressure and heart rate because the body doesn’t have to work so hard to get needed oxygen.

Besides these physical benefits, spending time camping in the fresh air offers mental benefits. People who have spent more time in the outdoors report being happier and having a more positive outlook. One reason for this may be that the increased oxygen allows more serotonin to be released from the brain. Serotonin is a substance that causes relaxation and a sense of well-being.

2. The silence of the forest allows you to unplug from distractions.

Nature isn’t actually silent except when compared to the city. Listening to a babbling brook or a birdcall is calming to the spirit. These sounds are uplifting and relaxing, whereas the sounds of traffic and crowds of people are just the opposite.

Camping in the woods is a wonderful opportunity to unplug, literally and figuratively. The many electronic sources that compete for our attention on a daily basis can cause a short attention span and frazzled nerves. Too often, we’re always looking forward to the next task or planning ahead.

In the woods, life is simpler. All you have to worry about is erecting a shelter, setting up a warm and comfy place to sleep, and preparing food. The rest of the time can be spent doing things that are personally meaningful like enriching relationships and discovering the outdoors.

3. You have a unique opportunity to connect with others.

There’s so little time for genuine interaction with people close to us in the daily routine. Most people are busy at home and work, and they snatch together time here and there. The ability to relax and unload some of the responsibilities of everyday life gives you the space to have more meaningful interactions with family and friends.

The combination of fresh air, exercise and teamwork bring those around you into clearer focus. Then you have the chance to just hang out, talk with each other, share and listen. It’s in the quiet spaces of life that ideas and issues that have been overlooked have a chance to surface. A serene camp setting is the perfect place to enjoy talking about them with others.

4. Sunshine has mental and physical benefits.

There are so many benefits to be had from spending time in the sun. A lot of people are at least a little bit deficient in Vitamin D, which you can only get from exposing bare skin to the sun or taking supplements. That’s because our bodies don’t manufacture the vitamin without help from the sun. The amount of time it takes for the body to make vitamin D is only half the time it would take to get a sunburn.

Being out in the sunshine is also a mood lifter. Studies have indicated that getting a minimum amount of time in the sun can make a difference in mood. It’s believed that spending time in sunlight can even release serotonin and endorphins that lift the spirits. People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have lower spirits in the winter when there’s not as much sunshine available.

5. You get to experience the stimulation of new challenges.

All of us need new experiences to keep life interesting. Learning to cope with the challenges of outdoor living gives you a sense of accomplishment that carries over into everyday life. Doing things yourself leads to pride in a job well-done, and learning how to fend for yourself is empowering.

You don’t have to rough it to get this benefit. Traditional camping offers plenty of opportunities to use your skills to create an inviting environment for enjoying nature. And besides giving you those feelings of accomplishment, camping is fun!

Laying your campfire just the right way for an optimum burn is an enjoyable hands-on puzzle. It’s also engaging to figure out just what foods will keep well and be delicious in an outdoor setting. Doing things you’ve never done before, like hanging a bear bag, give you stimulating new experiences.

6. Exercise is fun in a camp setting.

Did you know that just a few minutes of walking can raise your spirits? Exercise is a powerful antidote to mental and physical malaise. In the woods, there are so many interesting things to do and see that you don’t realize how much exercise you’re getting. Hiking, swimming and even setting up camp can give a work-out to muscles that you don’t use that often.

There are plenty of easy ways to intentionally incorporate exercise into your camping experience, too. Games at a campsite tend to be of the physical variety, like horseshoes and scavenger hunts. You can plan to hike a bit every day, and if there’s a lake or stream nearby, that’s a bonus. Swimming is a great way to get some exercise while having fun.

7. You’ll get a great night’s sleep.

It can be hard to sleep when you’re on the go all day long. Most people work indoors with limited time in the sun, only to come home and be exposed to light from electronic devices like TVs, computers and hand-held electronics. This can mess with a sleep cycle that works best with sunlight during the day and darkness at night. That’s one reason camping leads to sound sleep.

Resetting your biological clock also involves getting strenuous exercise during the day and time to relax in the evening. Camping is perfect for this. During the day, you’ll be maintaining the camp, gathering wood for a fire, hiking and perhaps swimming. At night, there’s really nothing else to do but unwind around the campfire.

At home, most people keep the temperature comfortable and use a sheet with a blanket or coverlet to keep warm. But when you’re camping, it can get pretty cold at night, even in the summer if you’re in the desert or mountains. Studies have shown that sleeping in a cold environment can actually lead to a deeper and more refreshing night’s sleep.

8. You’ll benefit from the power of nature’s healing.

Most people don’t even realize the extent to which overstimulation from the environment can lead to something called cognitive fatigue, commonly referred to as burnout or brain fog. It can mimic the symptoms of depression: a lack of energy, motivation, and interest in others. It’s not just the opportunity to relax and do nothing that helps overcome burnout. The beauty of nature also has a positive effect on mood and contentment.

Some people consider being surrounded by nature to be a spiritual experience. They report feelings of calm and euphoria and connectedness to all living things. Part of this may be due to the natural release of serotonin mentioned above, but it’s not a new idea. The Pagan religion is centered on nature and the earth, and in the past immense trees served as spiritual centers for followers.

Favourite Camping Spots

If you’re ready to go camping, check out favorite camping spots with gorgeous views:

North Carolina

If you’re interested in backpacking, Round Bald campsite in the Appalachian Mountains has inspiring views of the mountains in all directions. The campsite provides a grassy plain for pitching tents, and it’s part of the Appalachian Trail. It’s accessible by a quick half-mile hike with a mild elevation.

Montana

This camping destination offers beautiful views of clear, glacial lakes and the mountains surrounding them. Sprague Creek Campground is perched next to the largest of the lakes, Lake McDonald, which is 10 miles long and nearly 500 feet deep. This campsite not only gives you spectacular views, but it also includes a restaurant and camp store.

Arizona

This is considered to be one of the best places to camp in the canyon. Several of the campsites have incredible views of the Grand Canyon, and a one-mile trail leads to the North Rim Visitor’s Center. Restrooms and showers are available, and there’s a general store nearby at the Grand Canyon Lodge.

Now you know a few of the reasons that people are obsessed with camping. They feel better physically and mentally when they get away from the daily grind and immerse themselves in nature. Camping provides a rest from daily cares, mental stimulation, exercise, fresh air, and sunshine. Connecting to nature enriches the quality of relationships at the same time it provides mental, physical and even spiritual rewards for each person. The beauty of the outdoors, coupled with the benefits for mind and body, make camping irresistible.

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