Getting away from it all with the family for some peace and quiet surrounded by beautiful scenery and utter tranquillity has long been a pastime of mine. We battle the elements, insects and blisters to reach that perfect place both mentally and physically. Now there is actually scientific evidence to show that spending time in nature actually has a positive effect on mental health.

When families are out in nature together the parents are relaxed and less likely to snap at the kids, the kids can unwind because the parents aren’t shouting and even the most hyperactive children show signs of calming when they are out of the cities and are confronted with the serenity of nature.

Research has shown that spending time in the great outdoors increases creativity and problem-solving skills. Unplugging from technology activates our brains and walking and hiking gets our creativity flowing. In our busy lives, it’s rare that we find the time to think, I have come up with some of my most innovative ideas and creative plans whilst out on the trails and had moments of extraordinary clarity.

All the family has a role to play, wood collector, cooker, washer upper, wood chopper and camp cleaner. These roles are unlike the roles we take on at home in our day to day lives and this can help bring each other together. People who feel closer to their loved ones often perform significantly higher in happiness tests and camping is something which gets everyone contributing and working together.

Hiking has also been used in cases of depression as a form of therapy. Being away from the hustle and bustle and out in nature has been a great way for sufferers of depression to connect with themselves as well as with others. Left alone with you own thoughts can often give a better perspective of yourself and provide some insight and explanation to other aspects of your life.

Older campers and hikers have often spoken of how hiking helps them feel younger and healthier. 83% of campers over the age of 75 said they felt very active for their age, compared with 66% among those who don’t regularly camp. The secret to eternal youth? Grabbing a rod and a tent and heading into the countryside.

Of course, it isn’t only hugely beneficial to their mental health, but also their physical health. An hour of trekking can burn upwards of 500 calories depending on the weight of your pack and it doesn’t exert too much stress on your joints like walking on pavements and concrete, making it an excellent form of exercise for all ages. Walking on trails has also been linked to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes and a reducing the chances of developing diabetes.

So, I say, get the family on board for your next camping trip. It will do everyone a world of good.


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Oli Ward

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.