Do you spend all year working hard, looking forward to a vacation? Have you gone through a hard winter, rain, wind and other inclement weather?
Come summer, rather than put our feet up or spend some time in the lap of luxury by visiting some exotic all-inclusive resort and relaxing or taking easy time at some quality hotel, what do some people do? Go camping!
Sorry for the sarcasm. It is not really intended.
But one of the things some people have never been able to understand: if you have a choice, why in heaven’s name would you want to spend two weeks sleeping under the stars in a tent with the possibility of some insects invading your personal parts, kids screaming if it starts raining, walking incredible distances to reach basic hygiene stations, cooking breakfast in the open air, getting stung by alien flying creatures?
Need I go on! Yes I shall and here is why!
But maybe it is because camping was done wrong the first time or maybe those are just exaggerations. Actually, both are correct and remember there are many benefits of camping. Here are our top benefits of camping!
1. Escape Asthma Inducing Air Pollution
Fresh Air!!! Whether or not you live in a city, there’s a good chance that the air you’re breathing every day isn’t exactly truly fresh. The EPA has long identified air pollution as one of the primary causes of asthma and other breathing-related issues. Research into air quality still suggests that even in suburban neighborhoods, the air quality doesn’t match the air we take in when we escape to the wilderness.
In short, your lungs and body are craving the open fresh air of a campground or back country.
2. Adjust Your Circadian Rhythm
Trying to sleep while camping may seem to be the least-relaxing part of the adventure–all the bugs chirps and weird noises. All it takes is a small hole in you air mattress and you find yourself sleeping directly on the ground.
Research indicates that lack of sleep and other disruptions in circadian rhythms correlate with poor mental and physical health.1
But with the right gear and preparation, camping actually improves your sleep quality and subsequently improves your natural circadian rhythm.
Our recommendation: don’t skimp on the sleeping gear.
If you’re car or van camping, don’t be afraid to bring that inflatable mattress or a nice thick foam sleeping pad to snooze on.
Once you’ve nailed down your cozy requirements, you can catch a good night of sleep in the the outdoors and in the morning, you’ll be amazed at what a lack the blue light of a computer or television screen will do for your body, mind, spirit and your circadian rhythm.
3. Relieve Stress
Fortunately, one of the most valuable benefits of camping is one you don’t have to work too hard to achieve.
The American Institute of Stress reported that over 60% of Americans claimed that work related stress was the most common source of angst in their lives.2 It’s clear that the work week, even at the most successful of companies, takes a toll on the human psyche.
A camping excursion can do wonders for the stress levels in the body, as it allows you ample opportunities with no deadlines to escape hectic schedules, pressure filled timelines and tasks. Camping allows you to focus on the important things in life: when it’s time to fish, to hike, or most importantly, to build a campfire and then relax and do nothing at all!
4. Receive A Dose of Dopamine and Serotonin
Did you know that being outdoors increases serotonin and dopamine? Both serotonin and dopamine are natural chemicals or neurotransmitters in our brain that are responsible for sending messages between the brain and different nerve cells of the body.
Serotonin is responsible for many functions such as memory, sleep, behavior, and appetite.
Dopamine affects movement, emotional response, and your ability to feel pleasure.
The human body craves movement and nature in order to refresh its capacity for memory, mindfulness, and energy levels.
One of the benefits of camping is that it helps to retrain those neurotransmitters by reinforcing healthy habits like hiking, meditating, or simply spending time connected to nature. Humans are biologically wired to crave natural scenery, so even a weekend-long camping trip will do wonders for your soul and your brain.3
5. Movement Improves Your Mood and Overall Health
Recent medical studies have shown that inflammation levels in the human body have risen at alarming rates in the last 15-20 years, particularly in the United States.4
Camping is scientifically proven to reduce oxidative stress, as it encourages an active lifestyle and reduces your level of exposure to environmental pollutants.5 Being outside on a consistent basis and avoiding the city and it noise and pollution for a weekend helps your body to recover from stress symptoms while also reducing the levels of inflammation throughout your entire system.
Therefore, a camping trip that combines any sort of exercise along with being outdoors will definitely improve your well-being. You may be stiff and sore after the first day, but the body has amazing recoverability skills and you will feel better in no time.
Even if you’re already a fitness junkie, getting away from the treadmill and into the outdoors for a trail run or a hike will add some much-needed variety to your exercise routine.
This increase in mood is also true for winter when we are stuck inside for more time. So even getting outdoors for a small walk, run or even some snowshoeing will do wonders.
6. Self-Time is Essential to Your Well-Being
Whether or not we admit it, everyone (especially introverts and even extroverts) need time and space to become self-aware, and frankly, the opportunities to do that in the modern electronic world are scarce at best.
A California State Polytechnic University sociologist Jack Fong asserts, in an article in the Atlantics, that the value of solitude is actually be an important part of developing positive psychological patterns.6
For many, it is at least as essential as exercise or healthy eating.
As Fong attests, camping, especially solo camping (if you are will to go it alone), can function as a type of mini self-care retreat, where you’re able to process and ponder the things that have been weighing on both your mind and body. So are you at a loss for how to treat yourself? Try a dose of the outdoors!
It may be as simple as hiking to an alpine lake or visiting a quiet trail for a meditative walk through the woods. Try it and see what happens!
7. Vitamin D Gives You Energy
Recent National Library of Medicine research suggests that vitamin D deficiency affects over 40% of Americans.7
Chances are, if you live in a region where seasonal weather is especially varied, you’re among this growing number of Americans.
Commonly associated with sunshine, Vitamin D plays a key role in helping the body absorb calcium, which helps maintain healthy cells and promotes strong bones.
While the body makes Vitamin D on its own, it only does so after your skin absorbs sufficient sunlight–which is why getting outside can be beneficial to your health.
Apart from the other obvious benefits of camping and being outdoors that we have already mentioned, Vitamin D combined with the removal of artificial or fluorescent light can increase your energy while stabilizing your vision, your mind, and reducing your overall stress levels. Particularly after the dreary darker winter season, camping can be a great way to replenish your body’s critical vitamin D levels.
8. Alleviate Depression and Anxiety
Researchers have found that just being in the outdoors improves or changes the brain. There is a significant difference in people who walk in nature versus those who walk in an urban environment.8 There are even some doctors who are recommending a nice walk in the outdoors are part of their treatment. 9
We’re not scientists or doctors, but we can confidently say that there’s something about your bare feet touching the earth that just makes you feel better and connected with something larger.
Whether it’s relaxation, energy, or a combination of both, camping is the perfect to forget about your troubles and to take a walk through the wilderness with nothing but your bare soles.
9. Trying New Tings Keeps You Challenged Stimulated and Inspired
Camping offers the opportunity for you to stretch out of your comfort zone in one way or another, whether through taking that long hike, trying something new like snowshoeing, or cooking that fish you just caught over a campfire.
Chances are, you’ll find yourself invigorated by the challenges, and inspired to do more in the outdoors or even in your day-to-day life.
If you feel like your job pressures you to be more productive rather than creative, you are not the only person to feel that way. In a 2012 study of 5,000 adults, 75% of them felt they were not living up to their creative potential.10
Good news. There isn’t much to get done once you’ve set up camp and built a warming fire. But have you ever had a tent stake break in the middle of setting it up or lost the lighter you brought? Here’s your chance to flex those creative muscles.
Unplanned events happen all the time while camping and this encourages you to get creative with the limited options and gear you brought along.
Whether solving a problem or coming up with a new game to play, camping is an excellent way to get your creative energies flowing again.
You even even find that creativity overflows into your personal or work life as well, as your brain subconsciously resolves the threads of problems you are working to solve.
10. Build Better Connections
Spending time outdoors in nature, whether by ourselves or with loved ones improves our connections with each other and with Mother Earth.
Unplugging from the world and all the mobile electronics we have now allows one to focus on your surroundings, who you are with, and being present with yourself.
This is our top personal benefit for spending time outdoors. When we can engage with our significant people and enjoy the simple pleasure of just being outdoors together while admiring the beautiful Earth, we can build long-lasting memories and new emotional bonds.
We also create a mindfulness that helps us be more ware of who we are, gives us more gratitude, appreciation and love for the Earth and in one another. Isn’t that worth pursuing?
Conclusion: The Outdoors are Cheaper Than A Therapist
The benefits of camping has the power to bring extra perspective to your life and priorities by giving you ample space and time away from all the distractions of the modern world.
In the current world, it is so easy to distract yourself from focusing on what’s important to you, whether through work, electronics, or social events.
Taking time away from your office, technology, your household chores, and even societal pressures can do wonders for helping you prioritize your life.
If you’ve found yourself at a loss for what to do for your next step, or are in a funk with work, friends, and life in general, a weekend camping getaway should be on the top of your list for things that could help you gain significant and much-needed perspective.
So get out there and enjoy the benefits of camping!