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8 Ways Camping Enriches Your Life

Feeling brain dead? Check into Hotel Wilderness.

Corissa Haury
Nov 11, 2013 · 5 min read

John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” That’s true for your mind and body. Travel and life outdoors are how the human species naturally began. It is healthier and has more benefits for the human body than living indoors. While permanent outdoor travel in modern day life wouldn’t make much sense, we can still find a wild place and go camping.

Everyone needs to travel and camp at least once. If you’re spoiled and prefer to use a hotel when you travel, forget it. You will feel good when you camp. It enriches life and adds positive physical rhythms to it. Pack up and find a place to sleep under the stars. Why is this so good for you? A few reasons:

1. It resets your body’s biorhythms

Our bodies are naturally inclined to follow solar patterns when it comes to day and night activities. A study at the University of Colorado that tracked two weeks of outdoor living showed that being outside reset and improved the body’s daily rhythm. Test subjects went to bed almost 4 hours earlier and received 400% more sunlight when they lived outside. Research determined that the subjects had a richer, deeper sleep and did not feel groggy when they awoke. Get outside and get some extra rays and deep sleep, whether it’s cold or not. Your body will feel refreshed, which means you will too.

2. It forces you to problem solve

If you’re taking an extended hiking and camping trip of some kind, it’s likely you’ll have a moment where you can’t find enough kindling in the dark, or it turns out your tent is missing some parts. These moments are for problem solving — the kind you wouldn’t normally do at the office or on your day off. Camping won’t just get your body going, it will get your brain going too.

3. It makes you cook for yourself

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You’ll have to cook for yourself on a camping trip.

When you cook for yourself, you consume 50% less calories. Making your own food can also increase longevity. A camping trip will require you to choose the food you’re going to bring. Choose healthy foods that will give your body good energy while you’re camping. You will need that real strength to be alert outside. You have to decide what to eat, which means that you’re more likely to make a healthier choice than if you ate out at the restaurant.

4. It keeps you in the moment

You must be attentive to your surroundings when you’re hiking or camping. From the time you pitch the tent to when you stand on the edge of a canyon, you’ll need all your faculties. Weather, good camp sites or just a safe water source— these are the things you’ll need to be on the lookout for.You can’t be anywhere else when you’re climbing a steep hill or trying to build your fire for the night. Travel in the outdoors demands the attention of the traveler. The more present you are mentally, the more relaxed you’ll become, making a camping trip the best vacation you’ve ever had.

5. It gets your body moving

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Give your body a challenge in the outdoors.

Your body needs exercise, and if you don’t exercise regularly hiking and camping can be great ways to do so. Walking, carrying a backpack, and sometimes different terrain can all give your body a great workout in the fresh air. Burn calories and get your body into the wild where it belongs.

6. It takes you away from digital screens

Digital screens like TVs, computers, kitchen clocks, lamps, and smartphones all disturb the release of natural melatonin in our bodies at night. This changes the time we would normally go to bed or wake up, making us groggy. Research shows that if artificial light were eliminated and the human body slept outdoors, it would be able to release its melatonin an hour before sleep and an hour before it awakes. Sleep outside on a camping trip, and your body will be happier.

7. It keeps you humble

We’re just one species on a big planet, and being in the outdoors is a great reminder of that. No matter the geographical location, there are all kinds of insects, ground animals, fish, or larger creatures. There might be oceans, mountains, or a desert. No matter what the landscape, it will be bigger and older than you and if it could talk it would probably know a lot more than you. Appreciate nature and the outdoors for what they are. Breathe in the cold air and drink coffee, and get in touch with proper circadian rhythms.

8. It creates a healthier social atmosphere

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Talk to people, face to face.

Outdoors on a trip with friends or family is the perfect time to interact face to face. The camping group must act as a team during many parts of the trip. The team mentality brings everyone together in order to build camp at the end of the day or make a decision about which trail to follow at the fork in the road. There are no emails or texts that need to be sent during dinner or over the campfire; interaction can be organic and human. Everyone can enjoy the outdoors together on a camping trip.

Still skeptical? Read more about camping outdoors and its benefits here and here. Don’t forget to check out Outside Magazine for more fun articles on outdoor living.

Corissa Haury is a writer in Maine. Follow her on Twitter here.

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