Weekly Feature

2017-08-10 / Editorials

Camping offers health, other benefits for families

Many people take advantage of the summer weather by planning camping trips with their families. The fresh air and reconnecting with children and spouses are often cited as top reasons that people enjoy spending their vacation days in the great outdoors.

The National Institutes of Health cites studies that show camping helps reset your body’s natural sleep cycle. And according to the NIH, there’s a price to be paid for the modern shifting of biological clocks caused by artificial light allowing us to work or watch television late into the night: Research shows that long-term indulgence in these late sleep schedules leads to unwanted weight gain and obesity, mood problems, substance abuse and, of course, morning sleepiness.

The outdoor life equipment website eureka.com states that being outside in the fresh air can cause an increase in serotonin levels, increasing your happiness. The site also states that research shows that some time outdoors can improve your blood pressure and digestion, and give your immune system an extra boost.

The American Camp Association says the health benefits aren’t just for adults. According to the ACA, the camp experience is recognized by child development professionals as valuable in helping children mature socially, emotionally, intellectually, morally and physically. Outdoor activities planned by the Town of Aurora Recreation Department, including summer camps, allow children the chance to meet new children and make friendships, which helps them be more socially prepared, especially if they’re entering a new school in September.

For children, the benefits of spending time outdoors extends well beyond the classroom. According to the National Wildlife Foundation, the average American boy or girl spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day and more than seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen.

Kids easily become out of shape, tuned out and stressed out, because they’re missing something essential to their health and development: connection to the natural world.

Besides the health benefits, camping offers an opportunity to actually connect with your family members.

So turn off your tablets and cellphones, roast some marshmallows and enjoy disconnecting from your busy lives, all while experiencing a night under the stars.

Your body will thank you, and your family just might, too.

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