5 Ways Camping Benefits Your Health

healthy, happy camping!
Camping Health Benefits: Smiling family in tent

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Fresh air, less stress, improved moods, and a good night's sleep are all things we strive for after a hard week at work. Research shows that camping supports all of these things, and actually improves our overall health.

The Harvard Health Letter gives us five good reasons to put down our electronics, pack up our bags and plan our next camping trip to get outdoors:

You’ll get more exercise

You’re now surrounded by nature with no television or computer. Planning activities such as hiking, biking, paddling, or fishing will augment your activity level and keep your body in motion. 

Your vitamin D levels rise

Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium, and is best known for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. The Dietitians of Canada also report on recent research suggesting that vitamin D may also have benefits to your immune system, help prevent diabetes, and reduce heart disease risk factors.

You’ll be happier 

Research findings suggest that natural settings such as parks, wilderness areas, urban green spaces and gardens may be just what the doctor ordered to improve both physical and mental health. Also, light tends to elevate people’s mood by evening out our melatonin levels (one of the hormones involved with sleep and mood). When you’re outside all day, you get a lot more natural light exposure!

Your concentration will improve

The Harvard Health Letter states that researchers have, in fact, reported that children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. Another study from the Journal of Psychological Science assigned participants to walk in either a park or a city setting. The results showed that the individuals who were assigned to walk in a park setting had improved memory and attention spans over those who walked through urban environments.

You may heal faster

The importance of nature in the healing process has been outlined by Denise Mitten, Ph.D. in this Norwegian Journal. The Harvard Health Letter also reports that in one study “people recovering from spinal surgery experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications when they were exposed to natural light”.

Engagement, Health, Sustainability

Camping is not only beneficial for our health; studies show that there is a connection between kids' experiences in nature and their later life attitudes and behaviours towards our planet, so family camping is a must-do! Childhood participation in outdoor nature activities such as playing in the woods, planting trees or seeds, fishing, camping, picking flowers or hiking have a positive relationship to adult nature engagement. These environmental explorations in early youth become a foundation for later understanding of natural science, which may contribute to better environmental decision makers and advocates for the future.

Camping gives you the opportunity to fill your lungs with fresh air and establish a connection with nature and your family. It provides both long and short term mental health and physical health benefits, and gives you the opportunity to think, away from screens and other day-to-day distractions. Let’s unplug and get out there! 

*Originally published July 31, 2016