Ultimate Camping Guide - Your Brain on Camping

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By Sophie Goodman


It’s no secret that most of us spend more time in front of our computers and on our phones than we do outside in the sunshine. Yes, it’s mostly out of necessity—after all, our job require us to be plugged in—but more and more studies are showing that time spent in nature is also as great of a necessity. What if I told you that significant health benefits, including improved blood pressure, less risk of depression, and decreased cancer risks are all connected to more time spent in the woods, in the mountains, and on the ocean? Pretty good excuses to get outside and go camping for the weekend.


Time in the outdoors has been shown to reduce stress levels.


One study conducted in 2011 tested 420 subjects for physiological signs of stress. The test group spent time in the forest while the control group spent time in an urban in environment. The people who were lucky enough to be in the forest showed decreased blood pressure and heart rates and lowered cortisol levels, a marker for stress levels. Conclusion: if you’re stressed out, take to the woods.


Studies show that spending time outside can reduce inflammation.


Inflammation has been shown to be at the root of all sorts of unpleasant things, including autoimmune disorders, depression, digestive issues, and cancer. A 2012 study sought to compare the effects of ‘forest bathing’ with time spent in an urban environment. The results showed that those who spent time in the forest came out with reduced stress and inflammation compared to their urban counterparts, leading the researchers to conclude that time spent in the outdoors was more beneficial to health than time spent in the city. 


Walking in the woods can lower the risk of depression.


Turns out that time spent outside also has a significant impact on the brain. Researchers from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment found that time outside can have a positive impact on the areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation. In other words, your propensity for repetitive negative thoughts and emotions can decrease with outdoor time.


You’re a better problem solver after time in the backcountry.


One 2012 study found that after four days in the backcountry, a group of hikers increased their creativity and problem solving ability by 50%. The researchers hypothesized that the decreased distractions and increased natural stimuli helped the hikers achieve this level of improvement.


So, you mean that my brain may actually function better after playing outside? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.



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