Why Camping Feels Good: The Health Benefits of Time in Nature
There are tons of reasons to love camping: the ability to break out of your day-to-day routine, spend quality time with loved ones, and enjoy peace and quiet may come to mind. But for many of us, spending time in the natural world is the crucial element that makes camping so special. There’s just nothing like heading to the great outdoors and soaking up Mother Nature’s creations.
Thankfully, science backs up this idea. Study after study has shown that time in nature (even what scientists call “urban nature,” like urban park space) boost both physical and mental health. Let’s take a closer look at a few key takeaways and what they mean for your life.
Spend Two Hours a Week in Nature
One study, conducted by a team at the University of Exeter, found that humans benefit from at least two hours a week in green spaces.
There’s good news and bad news with this study. We’ll get the bad news out of the way first: the two-hour mark is a hard threshold, meaning that 90 minutes in nature each week didn’t deliver the same benefits. It’s two hours—specifically—that should be your target.
Now for the good news: study participants could space their two hours over many visits in nature, and the benefits still applied. So, whether you want to prioritize a two-hour nature stint every weekend or just spend 20 minutes at the park every day, you’ll reap the rewards.
Virtual Options Work, Too
Another study explored the effects of nature on humans’ ability to reflect on life problems. It compared participants who spent 15 minutes walking in a natural setting, participants who spent 15 minutes walking in an urban (non-natural) setting, and participants who spent 15 minutes watching videos of natural settings. Unsurprisingly, the people who spent 15 minutes walking in real-life nature had the best outcome, but the virtual group experienced a boost, too.
What does this mean for you? If you can’t make it to natural spaces near your physical environment, try to prioritize nature-heavy videos that give you a similar feeling. According to this study, you should still experience positive effects like increased attentional capacity and improved reflection.
Blue Spaces May Reign Supreme
Last but not least, a third study set out to find what type of natural spaces have the most extreme impact. And while green spaces, like parks and forest environments, have dominated the conversation for decades, “blue spaces” with water features may be even better. If you prefer time at the lake over time in the woods, this study suggests that your logic is sound.
As if you needed another excuse to go camping, the science is in your favor: spending time in nature is just plain good for you. Whether you’re hoping to reduce the harmful effects of stress, disconnect from tech devices, connect with people you love, or just enjoy some beautiful scenery, camping gets a gold star in our book.
Our takeaway? It’s time to get the next camping trip on the calendar. Here’s to enjoying the great outdoors!
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