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Is camping key to better health?

Want to feel better about your overall health? For women, especially if you don't already partake in camping or caravan-based activities, maybe you should. 

According to a report by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia, women who go on caravan or camping trips are happier, more satisfied, optimistic and energised than their non-camping counterparts.

Of the women surveyed, "55 per cent strongly agreed that caravan and camping trips can make you healthier", a statement from the report said.

Revealing both physical and mental benefits, 74 per cent of women who regularly went on a caravan or camping trip strongly agreed that camping helps them "recharge their batteries", while 63 per cent strongly agreed their camping and caravanning trips relieve stress, while 51 per cent strongly agree it can make you fitter. 

According to Caravan Industry Association of Australia CEO Stuart Lamont, they set out to know "if there was truth to the phrase 'happy campers'?"

The Real Richness Report 2017 was used to measure perceptions of health and wellbeing and the degree of closeness people felt in relation to oneself, nature, and their loved ones. 

For camping in particular, Mr Lamont said the research looked at "whether there was a difference in the happiness/health perceptions of people who caravan and camp regularly compared to those who don't." 

Survey results were compiled from two survey groups. The first group surveyed consisted of people who often went on a camping or caravanning trip, with the second group made up of Australians who had not caravanned or camped in the last 20 years. The results from this survey were able to compare and contrast attitudes and perceptions across both men and women. 

Mr Lamont was not surprised at the findings for women, acknowledging the organisation "knew that caravanning and camping trips taken by women had been on the increase," thanks to Tourism Research Australia's research showing an average increase of female campers hitting 5 per cent per year since 2014, and outstripping the growth of males on caravan and camping trips in the same period.

"So we expected that the results would show that women who were caravanning and camping were enjoying it more and, as a result, encouraging others to do the same," Mr Lamont continued.

Overall, 92 per cent of female campers indicated that camping made them feel closer to nature, three-quarters of female campers agreed that camping allowed them to destress and recharge their batteries, 97 per cent of female campers reported that camping actually made them feel happier, and 84 per cent of women indicated they felt fitter because of camping.

Mr Lamont said it is "reflective of broader trends in tourism at the moment where we are seeing people increasingly seeking outdoors, nature-based experiences which revolve around spending high-quality time with those close to you."

But bucking this trend, Mr Lamont notes "one of the exciting things that we are seeing is large increases in women travelling alone who are choosing to go camping/caravanning," with a marked 92 per cent increase in solo-female trips since 2011 as cited from Tourism Research Australia.

"This shows that caravan parks are increasingly being realised as safe but also a social environment for solo travellers," he surmised.

And Mr Lamont's advice for anyone new to the camping and caravan scene? 

"Caravan parks have evolved so much in the past decade, there are some amazing innovations out there. I've seen caravan parks providing massive safari tents, tepees, bubble tents and converted shipping containers!"

"These new experiences can be a great introduction to the lifestyle that goes with being a happy camper," he exclaimed.

"The camping community is one of the friendliest I've ever encountered, and people are really welcoming whatever your individual style might be."

He said caravan parks are great social spaces "where it is easy to strike up conversation or share a meal and form meaningful connections with people who, five minutes ago, were strangers."

"At its core, caravan and camping trips are about escaping the busy, stressful lives that people lead and 'reconnecting'; whether that be with nature, themselves or their loved ones."

Grace Ormsby is a journalist at Wellness Daily's sister title, Lawyers Weekly.

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