If you are reading this I am already taking to the converted, but you can use this maybe to convince, friends or family with you, but camping it turns out is good for your health.
It’s not the usual reasons people give to why they go camping, they are usually to escape city life, affordable break or the ability to spend quality time with friends and family.
Majority of people find camping relaxing and a great way to reduce the stress levels, I have just got back from a 3-night camping trip and while it might have rained for the majority of the stay I did come back much more relaxed.
But that’s beside the point, its official, camping is actually good for you.
At least according to American Scientists and if they claim to have done the research I am happy to agree with them.
They have discovered that going camping is good for your health by helping to reset your body clock. So if you did need another reason to head to a campsite this weekend surely this is it, its good for your health. Not sure where to head you can always find your perfect campsite here.
What’s the Science?
Ok, so anyone can make a claim, so let’s look more closely at the findings.
A team of researches from the University of Colorado Boulder, led by Dr Kenneth Wright monitored a group of volunteers that they sent on camping trips into the Colorado Rocky Mountains. They wanted to see how modern living had impacted on the timing of our internal body clocks for when and how long we sleep.
If they want to repeat this test, sign me up. Sounds like a great experiment to part off, going camping in the Rocky Mountains. While not quite as good as camping in Yorkshire, it wouldn’t be a bad place to camp.
The first set of volunteers were sent into the mountains in December. They went without any modern gadget or electrical lighting to see how they would react to only being exposed to natural lighting.
When they returned, the researched round that the campers had slept longer, gone to bed earlier (no surprise if they don’t have any light sources) and been more active during the daytime.
The volunteers were monitored in the lab and there levels of melatonin (sleep hormone) began to rise two and a half hours earlier than normal to show their body clock had reset itself to a healthier pattern by preparing the body for sleep earlier
Building on the initial findings
So any good scientific study isn’t going to stand up to much scrutiny with only one set of results.
They then sent another group of volunteers into the mountains but this time in the summer months and we’re allowed to take torches with them. While another grouped stay at home and both sets we’re monitored. I would hate to be in the second group.
Unsurprisingly the campers were exposed to four times as much natural light and went to bed much earlier than those who stayed at home with all the modern tech we surround ourselves with.
A very good question, did they test really prove anything. While the test wasn’t large scale and probably needs to be repeated several times to prove something scientifically we can still take some findings from it.
The fact that modern technology really does impact our body clocks and maybe we should head to the hills more often to help with our health.
Why our body clocks are so important?
Modern tech is fairly new and for centuries our body clock has been controlled by the 24-hour circadian cycle. This influences the physiological processes of our body. This helps to tell us when we should eat, drink, sleep. More importantly, it controls our moods, strength and general wellbeing.
The study has found that the clock can be altered by artificial light which can keep us awake (computer games) or wake us before our body is ready (alarm clocks).
Disrupting our sleep patterns, not getting enough sleep or staying up too late, restricts our exposure to natural light whilst throwing our body clocks out of sync.
This can lead to ill health and sleepiness – I am just as guilty as anyone
What do the scientists say?
Quoted in the Guardian, Dr Wright said: “Our modern environment has really changed the timing of our internal clocks, but also the timing of when we sleep relative to our clock.”
“A weekend camping trip can reset the clock rapidly.”
Speaking about the experiment he went on to say: ““Even with a small number of people we saw robust effects.
“It was the same for everyone. How our circadian clock responds to the natural light-dark cycle is part of our fundamental physiology.”
Camping really is good for you, just make sure you get out for a hike and hit the rucksack early.
What if I’m not going camping this weekend?
No worries, if you can’t pitch a tent this weekend Dr Wright has some useful advice.
“If our goal is to have people sleeping at reasonable times so they’re not asleep at work and school, there are things we can do in our daily lives.
“We would recommend getting more natural sunlight, and that could be starting the day with a walk outside, or bringing more light indoors if you can, or sitting by a window. As important, though, is to dim the lights at night,” he said.
Camping this weekend?
So know you all know camping is good for your health and see the results where are you heading to this weekend.
Obviously, replicate the first study is pretty hard, most of our campsites have quite a bit of artificial lighting. Lights in the toilet/shower blocks, some sites even have street lights on the main pathways around the sites – but generally speaking, you will still be exposed to less artificial light.
You could always choose a more back to basics type sites which will have even fewer lights and hopefully zero.
If you want the true results you could go wild camping in Scotland, sorry it’s not legally allowed in the Yorkshire Dales so I can’t recommend it but wild camping is the perfect way to get away from it.