If you’re on the fence about planning your next hiking or camping trip, here is something that might help you make your mind up – did you know that camping has countless unexpected health benefits?
Whether you want to build your stamina, improve your mental health or even introduce more vitamin D to your diet, camping is an effective way to recharge and recalibrate your body.
If you want to make positive changes to your sleep pattern, metabolism, and mental health, a camping trip in the woods may well be just what the doctor ordered!
Research shows that there are countless ways camping and hiking and improve your physical health. Some camping health benefits are obvious, but others might take you by surprise.
Here, we will take you through some of the most common health perks that might come out of your next camping trip!
Vitamin D might not be naturally produced by our body, but in many ways, we are surrounded by it because it naturally comes from the sun. Some believe that people need at least 10 minutes of sunshine a day to reap the benefits of vitamin D, which includes keeping our bones strong and even lifting our mood up!
You should protect yourself from issues like sunburn and sunstroke by wearing at least SPF15 sunscreen and drinking lots of water to avoid dehydration. However, hiking and camping trips are an ideal opportunity to get a top-up on this hugely important vitamin. Going for walks, bike rides, or even roaming around your campsite in the great outdoors will give you the dose of vitamin D you need.
To keep your heart and organs healthy, it is recommended that you undertake at least half an hour of cardio-based exercise a day. Camping is the perfect opportunity to take that exercise a little further and find more creative ways to get your blood pumping!
If you work or live in more industrialized areas, you should take full advantage of nature’s gym while you have the chance! Consider hiking or biking up some nearby hills with steep inclines to build your long-term stamina and resistance.
What sets camping apart from other vacations is that it involves a lot of manual labor, including setting up your tent, making a fire, and even catching your own food! Because camping involves a lot of heavy lifting, like carrying heavy logs to build a fire, you will build resistance and strength in your muscles.
Riding your bike and hiking on steep terrain are two common camping activities that will help you to improve your leg muscles as well as your arm muscles, which promises to give you a full-body workout and allows you to push several muscle groups to the limit!
Pollution is unhealthy; not only for the planet but also for you and your loved ones. If you live in a more industrialized area that relies heavily on fossil fuels, then chances are that you are breathing in poor quality air. With studies showing that air pollution is one of the leading causes of asthma and other chronic lung conditions, a weekend away camping might be just what your body needs.
Nothing beats the pure air of the wilderness. The abundance of trees removes polluting gases from the general atmosphere, leaving you and other camping enthusiasts with pure, clean lung-friendly air. You'll not only feel better doing relaxing activities like sitting by the fire, but you'll also have an easier time hiking, biking, etc.
If you’ve found yourself in autopilot and stuck in a repetitive rut, you might feel as if you no longer get the chance to use your brain and problem-solving skills in your day-to-day life. Camping benefits people that are seeking more mental stimulation because everything has to be done by scratch.
You need to set up your shelter, warmth, and prep your food. While this might seem simple, there will undoubtedly be several occasions where you will be required to exercise your brain in ways you aren’t able to do in your everyday life.
Some examples include:
-Learning how to build a tent
-Searching for firewood
-Navigating a nature trail with a map or compass
With a wealth of new experiences available in the wilderness, camping is the ideal environment to give your brain the room to be creative and problem-solve! A well-exercised brain is a healthy brain, and studies have shown that keeping your brain active will reduce the chance of diseases like dementia.
If you’re used to buying your food pre-packaged from the store, moving to food foraged and caught from the surrounding environment is a big step to take. This is for the most adventurous and seasoned campers, so no pressure to live off the land. However, this is a good opportunity to try your hand at fishing and making a meal in the wild.
You can only bring so many snacks along with you, so why not take this opportunity to bring foods that are free of additives? S'mores are a fun treat at night, but leave the chips at home and restrict your diet to natural ingredients.
If the day-to-day grind leaves you up all night, sleeping under the stars might help restore your sleeping pattern to a healthier balance. Studies show that our sleeping patterns can be thrown off by some of the omnipresent aspects of urban life, including electricity and digital devices.
Because camping gives you the chance to get away from these disruptive elements, many campers report that their trip has helped transform their sleeping pattern for the better (provided they didn’t skimp out on sleeping gear). Without the ability to check your phone before bed, you give nature the opportunity to sing you to sleep.
As you can see, a simple hiking or camping trip can do wonders for your body. But did you know that camping benefits your mind just as much as it does the body?
Sometimes, a little time away from the world is just what we need to improve our mental health; and with camping offering a new level of possibilities and exploration, there are several ways that it can help keep your brain healthy, happy, and fulfilled.
These days, our smartphone is almost like an extra limb, with many of us struggling to go one day without scrolling through our social media feeds. However, the overuse of social media can actually do more harm to your mental health than good.
Some users find that they constantly compare themselves to others on social media or that the constant doom and gloom in the news affects their mood.
Either way, a camping trip is a perfect excuse to have a break away from your phone. Swapping out some of these harmful influences with nature will help you to feel more positive and regain perspective.
Chronic stress is something all adults face at some point in their life. It might be family issues, financial strain, or a demanding career that’s grinding you down. No matter what the cause, if you are continually trapped in a stress-causing environment with no respite, you might feel like you need to shake things up and enjoy a break from the routine.
A camping trip offers many benefits for people suffering from chronic stress. As well as removing you from the daily grind and any stress-inducing environments, it also offers some much-needed time alone for you to self-reflect and become at peace with your thoughts.
The serenity of the forest surrounding you when camping makes it the ideal opportunity to take up meditation. Meditation is great for mental health because it gives you the opportunity to get more in touch with your body. You'll walk away with reduced stress, anxiety, and overthinking.
There are several ways you can meditate while camping. One way is by simply closing your eyes and focusing on the sounds of nature around you, whether it be the chirping of birds or the flowing of a nearby river.
Another way of meditation that is popular with campers is a method called ‘grounding’. In other words, this means letting your bare feet touch the earth (weather permitting), which is proven by studies to be extremely beneficial to one’s psychological wellbeing.
If a solo camping trip isn’t really your thing, another option is to go camping with friends, family, or a loved one. If you don’t see the people you care about often due to distance or the demands of day-to-day life, it can be easy to drift and become distant. Camping offers the perfect environment for you to have some much-needed bonding time with the people most precious to you in your life.
Whether it be long bike rides, walks, or a failed attempt to set up your tent, camping is the perfect opportunity to deepen your relationship with people and make some life-long memories with them. You'll be in close proximity with one another, so you can dedicate time to the kind of social interaction you don't get with a busy schedule.
Dopamine is an incredibly important hormone and neurotransmitter. It plays a huge role in allowing us to feel pleasure, reward, and achievement. If we are stuck in the same environment for too long, our dopamine receptors might become damaged or less effective. This is why a camping trip can help us produce more dopamine, as it will help us refresh these receptors. This is because we will be in different reward-based scenarios (such as catching fish).
Our brains are actually hard-wired to love nature, which means that even being in the presence of forest for an extended period can help your brain produce more dopamine. Maybe it will trigger memories from a past camping trip that you loved, and suddenly you'll feel right at home in the wilderness.
There is no end to the range of benefits that camping trips bring. You'll enjoy a rejuvenated mind and body when you break from the grind of the city life and head for the woods.
Although a camping vacation might seem intimidating if you haven’t done one before, dive in with an open mind. Get ready to experience an opportunity for personal and physical growth that the city can't give you!
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