The obvious benefits of camping may be therapeutic, but the real health benefits of camping go far beyond the fresh air and Vitamin D. So while many people think of the benefits of camping as relaxing, this is only the beginning. There is mounting scientific evidence that a camping trip is much, much more beneficial.
Medical studies show the benefits of camping (like physical activity, getting in touch with your circadian rhythm, and facing new challenges) regularly decrease the health risks associated with an urban and sedentary lifestyle.
Here’s a Quick Rundown on the Health Benefits of Camping:
- Improves Brain Function
- Boosts Vitamin D
- Enhances Mental Health
- Reduces Inflammation
- Resets Circadian Rhythm
- Improves Eyesight
- Improves Posture
- Cleans the Lungs
- Reduces Stress Levels
- Increases Personal Growth
Scientists have long been studying the ill effects of the urban/suburban sedentary lifestyle. Constantly spending time indoors has negative effects on your well-being. They are finding the health benefits of camping are the most effective way to reverse this. Even more so than getting on a treadmill or going on a diet.
A camping trip provides relief from the depression, weight gain, and increasing isolation modern society causes.
A regular camping trip translates into a better state of well-being, both physical and mental. So if you, or someone you know, needs some fresh air, plan a wellness camping trip. You’ll be glad you did.
The benefits of camping can change your life.
What Is a Wellness or a Well-Being Camping Trip?
A wellness camping trip is the same as any other camping trip, except you concentrate on the health benefits. Instead of long hikes, for example, you can do meditative forest bathing.
If you haven’t heard of it, forest bathing is walking out into the forest and letting it surround you. Walk slowly, breathe in the fresh air, and relax. Using forest bathing to relieve stress is one of the mental health benefits of camping. This is what a well-being camping trip is all about.
The Health Benefits of Camping & Physical Activity
When you walk outside, a few things happen that give you greater benefits than walking on a treadmill. Although walking on a treadmill is fine, the fresh air on the trail is what really helps your health.
This is mainly because you don’t know what to expect when you’re out hiking on the trail. So while any physical activity has health benefits, campers get a lot more out of doing it outside.
A Few of the Health Benefits of Outside Physical Activity
- Improved Coordination – as you navigate the ups and downs of a trail.
- Multiple Brain Stimuli – with so much to see, your mind is constantly working.
- Range of Motion – on a camping trip, you’ll get to move in all directions.
- Unpredictability – your muscles work harder when they don’t know what’s coming.
- Burn More Calories – if you walk somewhere, you also have to walk all the way back.
- Enthusiasm – you’ll have a healthier attitude towards physical activity in the fresh air.
- Oxygen-rich fresh air will also help you clean your lungs.
Now let’s look at how fresh air works to help with your health.
The Health Benefits of a Camping Trip in the Fresh Air
In addition to physical activity, being in the fresh air is a good reason to take a camping trip. If you work or go to school, being indoors for up to 90% of the time is unhealthy. This is because you are breathing in air that isn’t fresh. In fact, air pollution inside can be concentrated up to 2-5 times more than outside.
Even outside, you are still breathing in a good amount of air pollutants. According to the EPA, asthma and other breathing-related conditions affect 30 million people in the U.S.
So it’s time to get some fresh air.
Here Are Some of the Health Benefits of Camping in the Fresh Air:
- An increase in oxygen helps you digest food better.
- The oxygen increase will also reduce your blood pressure and heart rate.
- The oxygen-rich fresh air increases serotonin for an elevated mood.
- More oxygen strengthens your immune system.
- An increase of oxygen dilates your lungs to expel more toxins.
- Fresh air – which is full of oxygen – improves cognitive brain function.
Pro Campers Tip
Before any physical activity, take some time to do a breathing exercise – for even more fresh air. To do a simple breathing exercise, stand up straight. Then, slowly take a deep breath of fresh air in through your nose until your stomach expands. Repeat ten times.
This exercise is perfectly relaxing to do at sunrise on a mountaintop.
A camping trip in the fresh air will also help your circadian rhythm – so you sleep even better.
The Health Benefits of Camping Include Resetting Your Circadian Rhythm
What exactly is your circadian rhythm? In layman’s terms, your circadian rhythm is the internal process that regulates your wake/sleep cycle. Your circadian rhythm repeats about every 24 hours – or once a day or night.
Artificial light interrupts your circadian rhythm, but this is also where the benefits of camping can help.
Problems with Artificial Light
There are many health problems associated with artificial light. If artificial light is your main source of illumination, the results can be depression, obesity, diabetes, and sleep disorders.
A camping trip cannot solve all of this, but it can help with sleep. You may only get a few hours of sleep every night, or you may work nights under artificial light. You may also drink caffeine to stay awake during the day or fall asleep on the couch after work. Any one of these habits will adversely affect your circadian rhythm.
But how does a camping trip help?
The biggest way a camping trip can help your circadian rhythm is by removing the artificial light pollution. The most obvious artificial light pollution is the street lights or the lights of buildings at night. As well, if you leave the TV on while you sleep, the artificial light will disrupt your circadian rhythm.
You might not know this, but your eyes and brain need complete and total darkness to reset your circadian rhythm. Complete darkness and complete quiet, which is one of the main benefits of camping. So you can get that deep REM sleep that is important for your nervous system to function properly.
This Is How A Camping Trip Will Help Your Circadian Rhythm:
- Complete darkness at night to reset your circadian rhythm.
- Complete quiet at night to get you into a deep sleep.
- A set schedule of darkness and light to reset your circadian rhythm.
- No artificial light from digital devices to interrupt your sleep.
- Physical activity during the day to help you sleep.
- Plus, your body will naturally produce more melatonin with sounder sleep.
Your body was made to get up with the sun and go to sleep when it gets dark. Obviously, that is not possible when you live and work in a city. And suburbia is no better for fresh air or a deep night’s sleep for mental health and well-being.
Pro Campers Tip
All you need is a few nights on a camping trip away from artificial light. This will help you reset your circadian rhythm.
Now let’s look at the benefits of camping and vitamin D.
The Health Benefits of Camping: Vitamin D
You may not think a camping trip would improve your vitamin D levels, but it does. This is because the best source of vitamin D for our bodies comes from exposure to sunlight. This doesn’t mean getting a tan, it just means getting exposure to the UV rays of the sun.
Considering that 13% of the world’s population has a vitamin D deficiency, this is a cause for concern. But what does vitamin D do for us?
Vitamin D Can Help With:
- Calcium & Phosphorus Absorption
- Bone Growth & Mineralization
- Immune System Function
- Circulatory System Function
- Nervous System Function
- Digestive System Function
Vitamin D Can Also Prevent:
- Heart Disease
- Breast Cancer
- High Blood Pressure
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Colon & Prostate Cancer
Many of the conditions caused by too much exposure to artificial light.
Unfortunately, many people think they can get vitamin D from just a supplement. However, you can’t get enough vitamin D from a pill to give you the health benefits it should.
A camping trip to get vitamin D doesn’t have to be in the summer, either. To get the health benefits of vitamin D, all you need is some outside exposure to UV rays.
Pro Campers Tip
Tuna, mushrooms, and egg yolks are other good sources of vitamin D. Tuna in packets is especially easy to take on a camping trip. One serving of tuna will give you the boost of Vitamin D your body needs for health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Camping: Mental Health & Well-Being
Many campers think that rigorous physical activity sums up the entire health benefits of camping. Nevertheless, there are many proven mental health benefits that come from a weekend camping trip.
Physical Activity on a Camping Trip & Mental Health
The mental health benefits from physical activity are the same indoors as on a camping trip. But how often are you exercising? If it’s less than 20 minutes a day, your mental health may be suffering from it.
A camping trip can help get you started again, though. Since there are no distractions in the wilderness, you can start an exercise program on your camping trip. And you don’t have to start a diet to do some physical activity for your mental health.
Sometimes just doing one thing at a time is all the benefits of camping you need.
What Physical Activity Can Do for Mental Health & Well-Being
- Lowers Risk of Depression
- Improves Cognitive Function
- Releases Endorphins
- Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
- Decreases Fatigue
- Improves Memory
- Increases Creativity
- Increases Blood Flow to the Brain
- Helps Grow Brain Cells
Pro Campers Tip
It’s good to start a physical activity plan on a camping trip, or a diet, but not both. Strong physical activity combined with comfort food is perfect for mental health. As well, a calorie-reduced diet with peaceful, fresh air walks is good for well-being.
Do both at the same time, though, and you will come home feeling defeated and exhausted.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, Mental Health, & the Benefits of Camping
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression that comes with the onset of winter. Then it can last until spring. The American Psychiatric Association suggests this chemical imbalance in the brain is due to lack of sun exposure.
As you can imagine, the seasonal changes in sunlight can affect your circadian rhythm as well. Since the days are shorter, you will also be using more artificial light. This will also have adverse effects on your mental health.
Combining increased artificial light with less fresh air and no physical activity is a recipe for bad mental health. Any mental health provider will tell you a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun will help. Add in the physical activity and some fresh air, and a camping trip is perfect for your well-being.
The Solution to Lessen the Mental Health Effects of SAD (Keck Medicine of USC)
- Greet the Dawn
- Get Outside
- Take a Vacation
Sounds a lot like a camping trip to us! Even in the winter, getting outside for the weekend will help your mental well-being immensely.
Pro Campers Tip
A camping trip for mental health and well-being is a good time to quit smoking. Don’t try to do any physical activity or dieting. Just breathe in the fresh air and try to relax.
The Health Benefits of Camping: Socializing
Mental health experts will tell you that people who have strong social networks live longer. This is because they have better mental health and well-being through a large circle of friends.
A camping trip is the place where everyone can put their electronic devices away, talk, and reconnect. You can also make new friends – without the texting interruptions. Socializing is one of the health benefits of camping that simply cannot be measured.
So if you are sick of artificial light and yearn for fresh air and physical activity – call your fellow campers! The health benefits of camping are waiting.