People choose camping because they love it or because it’s a great way of having a budget-friendly vacation, but they probably don’t give much thought to the health benefits of camping. Yes, we know there are plenty of good reasons to take a vacation of any sort, especially because of the impact on our overall well-being, but we can actually pin down the health benefits of camping specifically.
When out camping and surrounded by a bunch of trees, those trees are giving off more oxygen than you typically get. That extra oxygen in turn causes your body to release serotonin – a molecule that is essential to our feelings of happiness and well-being. In fact, people with depression are often found to have low blood levels of serotonin. One of the unexpected health benefits of camping is the happy feeling you get from breathing all that fresh air. That fresh air makes you feel better is no longer just conjecture!
Camping by its very nature requires more physical exercise than you normally exert to gather, prepare and store food and acquire shelter to keep out of the elements. Go further by adding fishing, hiking or bike riding into the mix and kick cardiovascular benefits and calorie burning off the charts.
3. Mineral Absorption
When you are outside, your body absorbs huge quantities of sunlight. This feels good, and makes you look good inside and out. The sun provides a healthy outdoor glow to the skin, and internally the body uses it to synthesize Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, two minerals essential for healthy bones and teeth. A stronger skeleton and tougher chompers are two additional surprising health benefits of going camping.
4. Fight Insomnia
Melatonin is a molecule closely associated with the sleep-wake cycle and is thought to be influenced by the amount of blue light we receive. Blue light comes from artificial sources like the incandescent bulb, and suppresses the release of melatonin. Camping outside exposes us to the melatonin-friendly yellow light that ancient humans depended on, and can result in a more natural alignment of the sleep-wake cycle with sunrise and sunset. This is welcome news to anyone who suffers from insomnia. So after bringing your muscles to exhaustion with all the physical labor of camping, let the yellow light from a campfire release the floodgates of melatonin and enjoy some all natural sleeping medicine.
5. Less Stress
Stress is physically and mentally taxing, and can seriously affect our health. One of the important health benefits of camping is that it reduces stress by removing common triggers like work pressure, traffic and the various ills of modern society and replaces them with things like forest sounds, sunlight and trees – things which people tend to try and artificially reproduce to lessen stress and counter its negative effects, like increased blood pressure and poor digestion. Cut out the middle man and go straight to the source, nature, and let her work her calming magic on you.
6. Improved Relationships
Being in close proximity with others, without the interference of modern devices like phones and tablets, can let you communicate more directly and give and receive eye contact. Also having to depend on others to procure food and establish shelter takes us back to an almost primal sense of community and cooperation. Conversely, if your friends or loved ones do not want to join you on a trip to immerse themselves in the great outdoors, that can be beneficial as well. Absence does make the heart grow fonder and remember, you can’t be missed if you never go away.
7. Peace and Quiet
Enjoy the simplicity of nature, simply. Forget the electronics and their requisite power generators and battery chargers. All you need is one charged phone for emergencies only, kept turned off and packed well away. One of the best reasons to go camping is that it affords you the opportunity to unplug, literally and spiritually, from the modern world in order to recharge your own internal batteries.
Did any of these healthy benefits of camping surprise you? Are you a camper or maybe you’ll give it greater consideration now?