Last year, an estimated 48.2 million American households went camping — approximately 39% of households in the United States. Of those campers, 20% said they went camping for the very first time. If you don’t count yourself as a part of these growing camping statistics, researchers say we should think again. Studies and camping enthusiasts have highlighted a surprisingly diverse array of mental health, immune system, and physical health benefits when we embrace the joys of camping and head into the great outdoors this summer.
Camping and Your Health: 4 Reasons Everyone Should Head Into Nature This Summer
1. Experience Cleaner, Purer Air
Nine out of 10 adults live in cities or regions where they’re exposed to severely polluted air. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Researchers warn that air pollution suppresses your immune system’s T-cells. Not only does that leave you more prone to a wide array of illnesses and infections, but it’s also linked with significantly higher rates of asthma and allergies.
When you go camping, you escape that dirty urban air and give your lungs (and your immune system) a reprieve. It’s no wonder that the first thing that many people instinctively do when they open their car door and step into their campsite is to exhale and inhale deeply. Your body knows what it needs!
2. It Reboots Your Circadian Rhythm
Your circadian rhythm governs your natural sleep-wake cycles and hormone levels. Alas, studies have found that our modern lifestyles disrupt our circadian rhythm. This is often due to chronic stress, dietary choices (like caffeine overconsumption), and the glow of electronic lights and digital devices.
A growing body of research, including studies on birds, have noted profound differences in the circadian rhythms of those who live in natural, more forested areas and those in developed cities and towns.
When you camp, you give your body and brain time to reset and return back to the natural sleep-wake cycles of the sun and moon. This results in more rejuvenating sleep, more balanced hormones, and improved mental health and immunity.
3. It Gives You a Chance to Reconnect Socially
If you choose to go camping with friends or family, you’ll likely partake in traditional social activities like building a fire, going on a walk or a hike, cooking dinner together, and exploring nature as a group. These bonding moments are more than just good, old-fashioned fun. They’re also powerful opportunities to build bonds and relationships, and counter the negative effects of the social isolation that’s becoming a chronic problem in society:
- Higher rates of stress
- Poor immune system responses
- Higher rates of disease
- Negative mental health
4. It Triggers a Higher Sense of Wellbeing
- Improve your mental resilience, including boosting your creativity, problem-solving, and resilience against stress
- Build your overall sense of balanced well-being
- Boost your central nervous system’s recovery from chronic stress and other modern maladies
It’s clear that camping is more than just a fun pastime, but a beautiful invitation to step back into nature and reconnect with a healthier sense of self in some surprising ways.
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