Findings from a new study by the US Forest Service are the latest contribution to a growing body of evidence indicating exposure to the natural environment may have a positive impact on health. The 18-year analysis of data from 1,296 counties suggests that Americans living in areas with a tree deficit are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and lower respiratory tract infections than those who live in areas where trees are plentiful. Although the study is far from conclusive, it does raise the question: does camping have health benefits?
- Being outdoors increases exposure to vitamin D, which studies show may help prevent high blood pressure and heart attacks, as well as some forms of cancer and depression.
- Exercise is an inherent part of camping, as it involves more walking, hiking and general activity, such as getting water and collecting wood. The increased exercise improves circulation, which promotes better sleep, along with enhancing cardiovascular and bone health.
- Time spent away from the demands and stress of work, in addition to disconnecting from the constant stimulation of technology, promotes relaxation, resulting in better mental and emotional health.
- Spending time with family deepens bonds, facilitating improved social health.
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