The simple answer is yes. Camping and associated outdoor pursuits have been shown to improve our wellbeing in a number of basic yet crucial ways.
Here’s some science behind why it’s a good idea, in this instance at least, to take your parents’ advice.
1. Camping gets you more active
A camping or caravanning holiday is great for putting you in a more active mindset. Most of us, when we stay on a campsite, are more inclined to get out and about, discovering walking or cycling trails and trying new activities. All these pastimes raise the heart rate and stimulate metabolism, helping you shed calories while giving your muscles, heart and lungs a good workout.
While you’re exploring your surroundings in an active way your body is releasing chemicals called endorphins, which trigger positive and energising feelings that combat stress. They’re a natural mood booster that can help you shake off the strains of your daily life in minutes.
2. Camping resets your circadian rhythms
Circadian rhythms are our physical, mental and behavioural changes that occur over a 24-hour cycle. They influence important aspects of our physiology such as the regulation of body temperature and hormone release, as well as affecting our sleep and wake cycles.
Recent studies have suggested that the invention of electric light has caused disruption to these cycles, as it has enabled us to spend more time out of the sunlight during the day and stay up deep into the night. Camping and caravanning holidays mean we are more exposed to natural light during the day and less influenced by electricity at night. They therefore help the body’s natural rhythms to synchronise with solar time, improving sleep and readjusting our internal functions to a more natural state.
3. Camping gets you out in the fresh air
Getting out in the fresh air isn’t just a myth made up by parents to get their kids out of the house for a while. There is proven benefit to breathing countryside air, which is cleaner than the air in the big cities. Spending time in fresh air cleans your lungs, helping you to breathe more deeply, which in turn ensures more oxygen is delivered to your cells.
4. Camping reduces stress
Getting out of the daily rat race is an obvious way to relieve stress. There’s no commute to face, no office politics to negotiate and no deadlines to meet. For a well deserved week or two you can forget about it all and spend quality time with your family.
Not only that, being physically and mentally removed from your everyday life can help you put things into perspective. Research on the soothing effects of lush green surroundings is beginning to emerge and suggests that being out in the countryside has healing properties. A leisurely stroll to take in the scenery is a great opportunity to ponder over the things you may not have time to think about normally.
Campsite life is also about community and provides a perfect chance to meet likeminded people. Sitting down for a drink at the bar with the family on the next pitch or chatting to someone new at the poolside is a good way to stimulate positive feelings and keep stress at bay.
5 Camping gives you the D factor
It’s common knowledge that a daily dose of sunshine is good for you, but few of us really know why. Sunlight promotes the production of vitamin D in the skin, which supports calcium absorption to keep your bones strong. Getting sufficient vitamin D from your diet is difficult, so some exposure to sunshine without sunscreen can be beneficial. Experts recommend around ten minutes of unprotected exposure during a cooler part of the day, after which the necessary precautions – sunscreen, hats and the like – are strongly advised.