The Camping Cure: Go RVing to recharge your mind, body and spirit
Good Sam members already know that RVing is a rewarding, fun-filled pastime. According to medical experts (and countless veteran RVers), camping also offers potential cures for some of the negative aspects of today’s demanding daily routines.
Let’s talk about the ways that RVing can help you stay healthy and strong by promoting physical fitness, challenging your brain, alleviating stress, encouraging smart eating patterns and developing meaningful social connections.
Stay Physically Fit
According to the Mayo Clinic staff in the MayoClinic.com article titled “Exercise: Seven Benefits of Regular Physical Activity,” the value of exercise is multidimensional. Considering that a regular fitness program boosts stamina and endurance, protects against chronic illness, enhances sleep quality and bolsters psychological well-being, we RVers can’t afford to leave our exercise routines behind when we hit the open road.
And why would we? It’s a cinch to incorporate health-promoting physical activities into the natural rhythm of the RV experience. Aerobic exercise options like walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing and golfing (particularly without a cart) are readily available at most RV resorts. And it’s fun and reinforcing to plan fitness sessions with other campers. Exercising with a buddy or two might provide the extra incentive needed to stick with a program.
Our bodies are designed to keep moving, so we should take advantage of whatever we’re able to do, and go out and do it. You can hit the hiking trails, paddle a kayak or join a water-aerobics class in a resort swimming pool. How about modifying traditional aerobic exercises for use in a pool? While standing in chest-deep water, walk briskly, jog in place, twist, do jumping jacks and scissors kicks or whatever sounds appealing. Remember to do warm-up and cool-down stretches and always perform water activities with another person present.
Back on land, you can play horseshoes, volleyball or lawn darts. Toss a football, beanbag, beach ball or boomerang with family and friends. No matter what you choose to do, just keep moving!
Challenge Your Brain
In his book Shake that Brain! author Joel Saltzman encourages readers to engage their brains to maximum capacity, in contrast with the small percentage of brain power that neuroscientists estimate is used in a typical person’s daily life.
Saltzman suggests basic brain-expanding activities such as assembling complex puzzles, learning several new words each day and using your nondominant hand to perform customary tasks.
Going RV camping is a most effective (and amusing) way to achieve many of Saltzman’s “brainy” recommendations. Planning trip routes, navigating by map and researching tourist attractions are common cerebral pursuits for RV travelers. Figuring out how to use an updated global positioning system (GPS), driving from here to there in an unfamiliar locale, maintaining you RV’s technical systems and adapting to ongoing changes and challenges are some of the many brain-shaking exercises that enrich an RV adventure.
The article “Tips for Managing Stress” in Web MD’s Anxiety and Panic Disorders Guide promotes the pursuit of enjoyable hobbies (hello, camping!) as a way of reducing stress and maximizing your happy, healthy potential.
RVing probably qualifies as the ultimate stress-reducing hobby—the king of relaxing pastimes. Around every bend in the road, campers are introduced to promising new places and novel perspectives. And all that peaceful time that RVers spend outdoors in the presence of breezy beaches, vibrant flowers and cool green forests is naturally soothing and rejuvenating for frazzled bodies, minds and spirits.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid devised by the faculty at Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition strongly recommends a vegetable and fruit-based diet that includes plenty of whole grains. The pyramid also calls for a sharply reduced intake of red and processed meats, refined foods and sugar-laden beverages.
Fortunately, RV travel removes you from any less-than-healthy home-based eating patterns that might have crept into your menu routine. Camping offers a nutritional new beginning for anyone who aims to adopt positive changes.
When you’re rolling down the road, opportunities to pick and purchase luscious seasonal fruits and tasty fresh veggies are bountiful. A quick stop at a farmer’s market, orchard, grove or produce stand can serve as the first step to becoming a healthier, more energetic you.
Establishing Social Bonds
In the Web MD Health News article “Strong Friendships May Help You Live Longer,” authors Jennifer Warner and Sylvia Davis describe a scientific study that affirmed the upbeat influences that close friendships can exert on a person’s overall mood, sense of self-worth, coping abilities and longevity.
As RVers, we are generally well aware of how invaluable a strong network of dear friends can be. According to Warner and Davis, community health researchers have now reached similar conclusions.
Whether you’re attending a casual extended family campout or taking part in a carefully organized Good Sam Samboree or Rally, camping connects you with other adventurous, sociable people. Such meaningful bonds of friendship can improve your health and might even extend your life.
Never underestimate the health-promoting power of the camping cure.
Paula Loehr is a journalist, nurse, teacher and avid RV camper from coastal Florida.