Keen to embrace the great outdoors, but not sure where to start? We explore the health benefits of camping, along with what you need to know and have before you set off on your adventure…
According to numerous studies, people spend around 90 per cent of their lives indoors – even before lockdown! But now, after a year of being cooped up, everyone could do with some freedom more than ever, and nothing lifts a weight off an overburdened soul more than stepping out of the everyday routine into the wild unknown. What your body and soul crave is to be surrounded by the gentle hum of the natural world – and a camping trip could be just the ticket, especially with travel abroad still uncertain. Read on to discover some health benefits of camping…
Get into the Great Outdoors
Whether you’re seeking a little restorative me-time or hoping to build bonds with friends and family, camping is one of the best retreats you could choose – not just under current restrictions, but at any time. It may not be quite as luxurious as a spa getaway, but getting back to basics is infinitely more exhilarating and re-energising.
Camping, whether it’s in a tent, a caravan, or a more glamorous yurt, gives you more time to embrace nature. And there are a number of activities you can add in to reap the health benefits of camping in nature (and your freshly reawakened mindset), during your break and beyond.
Here are 5 health benefits of camping…
1. Walk yourself healthy
Camping and walking go hand in hand. Walking is one of the nation’s favourite pastimes and for good reason. It not only gets you physically fit but it also gives your brain a break. It can become almost meditative as you pace along.
By setting yourself the task of taking a long walk in nature to explore the world around you, you give yourself you the gift of time. It also gives you an opportunity to take in the beauty of your surroundings.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could take your camping gear with you and set out on a hike that continues for days. Or it could be a short hike, where you return to your base camp at the end of the day.
You can make the most of your hike by planning your trail and kitting yourself out with suitable clothing and footwear (see below). You could also take something with you to document what you see and experience. For example, bring a camera, a journal, or even some art supplies if you have a creative streak!
2. Reconnect with nature
When you’re at home, under a solid roof, with Netflix available at the touch of button, you become far removed from the natural world that sits just beyond those four walls.
Camping thrusts you back in time to a place where you must create your own entertainment. It pushes you to be in the present moment. You’ll feel more in touch with yourself and with the beauty that is always there but usually goes unnoticed.
Instead of gazing at a screen, take the opportunity while camping to gaze at the stars. Wrap up warm, sit by the fire, put your phone away and allow a blissful sense of awe to fill every inch of your being.
3. Witness awe-inspiring sights
Taking time to appreciate and acknowledge the incomprehensible vastness of the sky and the beauty of a billion swirling galaxies in the endless unknown gives you the chance to become present to the magnificence of the universe.
You may be met with an exhilarating blend of complete amazement and abject terror, and the awareness of how tiny your individual life is, yet how monumentally important and integrated every atom truly is. And you’re likely to feel the positive effects of that for a long time after your trip.
4. Relight your fire
Getting back to basics can be a little gruelling at times, but deeply satisfying, too. And lighting a fire to cook on and warm yourself by is a powerful activity that is not only essential on a camping trip, but offers a range of wellbeing benefits that reach back into your primeval self.
That trance-like state you slip into while looking into flames dancing around a campfire has been well researched. One 2014 study, carried out by The University of Alabama, found that sitting around even a virtual fire reduced blood pressure. Further noted benefits included increased sociability and improved sleep. It’s thought that these benefits stem from appeasing your natural instincts – for thousands of years, fire was vital for survival. It would seem we haven’t outgrown our need for it just yet!
5. Go barefoot and reap the benefits
From pain elimination and improved sleep to balanced hormones and stress relief, going barefoot has incredible health and wellbeing benefits. Camping is the perfect time to try “earthing”, which is literally making physical contact with the ground.
This act of walking barefoot on the grass or wriggling your toes in the sea or sand can make you feel present and alive, not to mention feeling better mentally and physically.
An article, published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in 2012, suggests the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless supply of free or mobile electrons. These have the potential to create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems.
Moreover, oscillations of the intensity of the Earth’s potential may be important for setting the biological clock’s regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion.
Time to kick off your shoes and get reacquainted with the ground!
The latest kit you need for your camping trip!
For shoes you can rely on, look no further than the 361 Yushan Waterproof trainer (£129.99, store.361europe.com). The sturdy shoe has great grip, a waterproof upper membrane construction, and non-leaking eyelets. They’ll keep you warm and dry, even if it rains!
Be protected, rain or shine, with The North Face Women’s Horizon Sunnyside Shorts (£45, cotswoldoutdoor.com). The shorts are abrasion-resistant, quick-drying and lightweight, while offering UPF50 protection.
With stretch fleece fabric and a zipped chest pocket, this Mountain Equipment Womens Lumiko Hooded Jacket (£75, cotswoldoutdoor.com) is a must- have for cosy nights outdoors.
Bored of wellies? Try The Original Muck Boot Company Apex Zip Short Boots (£155, muckbootcompany.co.uk). They’re 100 per cent waterproof, are super comfy and surprisingly lightweight.
Tentsile Stingray 3-person tent (£699, tentsile.com) makes it possible to sleep up in the trees! The tent has enough space to sleep three adults or two adults and two kids. It’s a great option for car camping or beside a river where flat land is in short supply.
Primus Onja Stove (£144.99, ellis-brigham.com) has a fold-out construction made from lightweight stainless steel and durable fabric. It comes with an oak lid that doubles up as a chopping board. Plus, it has independently adjustable burners and 2800w output.