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It seems naturism, or naked recreation, was much more appreciated at an earlier time in American history than it is today. Ben Franklin, for instance, enjoyed taking a bath of cold air in his birthday suit and often did so outdoors. Likewise, famed poet Walt Whitman enjoyed naked sunbathing and poetically promoted the joys of swimming in the buff. Perhaps President Theodore Roosevelt had been inspired by Whitman’s advice, for he was known to hike down to the Potomac River and jump in naked. But running around unclothed outside isn’t as popular as it used to be, and in most states, it is downright prohibited.
Interestingly enough, the pandemic seems to have opened naturist opportunities for many people, either through comfortably working from home or from personal expressions of liberation. It has also become a symbol of environmental concern. Nudist organizations and clubs across the U.S. and Europe have announced a spike in membership since 2020, and they claim there are many advantages to living a naturist lifestyle.
So let us get down to the bare facts of the matter as we explore these benefits…
Related: Top 10 Common Health Practices That Are Actually Hurting Us
10 Feeling Comfortable in Your Own Skin
When people visit a nude beach for the first time, they never know quite what to expect other than cool water, hot sand, and a general lack of attire that might make them blush. But one of the first things they’ll definitely notice upon arrival is that everyone will be smiling! The simple fact of the matter is that naked recreation is good for a person’s mental health. A naturist lifestyle is a fun, happy way of living, and a rather progressive psychologist at the University of London is trying to prove it.
In 2018, Dr. Keon West of Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, published results from three studies he conducted on naturist activities, trying to gauge the level of happiness such a lifestyle might bring. His first study was an online survey representing 850 Brits from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. He not only concluded that people who regularly participated in group nudist activities were more satisfied with their lives and content with their bodies, but he also found that such overall satisfaction was increased the more frequently these activities occurred! It seems the more often people strip down together, the more comfortable they feel with themselves.
Two other studies were conducted at large public nudist events, where the participants were interviewed right before removing their clothes and right after the event while still naked. The results found that they were much more comfortable with their bodies and satisfied with their lives after experiencing group nudity than they were beforehand.
Researchers for decades have found that carrying around negative body issues can be a serious psychological problem, only to be compounded by the images of perfect physiques that deluge us in magazines and on social media. Dr. West suggests that naked group functions might be an affordable and convenient method of dispelling the personal burden of body dissatisfaction. However, he admits more research is needed on the subject.
This should certainly make for some very interesting research projects in the future.
9 A Wonderful Way to Stimulate Your Social Life!
A nudist lifestyle is a great way to make new friends. All over the country, there are naturist clubs, organizations, and hidden beaches, and many of them feature hiking groups, volleyball tournaments, and even cocktail parties—all in the buff! The American Association for Nude Recreation has been around in some form since 1931 after a judge in New York State acquitted a group of people arrested at a nudist club in a series of police raids. The AANR boasts affiliation with about 180 clubs and resorts across North America and has served more than 213,000 individual members.
Another advocate group with similar affiliation is The Naturist Society, which has been in existence since 1980 and whose quarterly publication (unofficially called N magazine) has a mailing list of over 20,000 current members! If you can’t find a clothing-free comrade through these two organizations, you’re really not trying hard enough.
Or perhaps you might want to just show up at a naked venue. You can always start with Black’s Beach in the La Jolla section of San Diego, California, when you’re in town. After hiking down a long, precarious trail, you’ll reach a stretch of uncluttered, pristine beach more than a mile long where nudity is tolerated, and upon arrival, you’ll agree it was worth the trek.
You’re allowed to romp around in your birthday suit, or however, beneath the 300-plus-foot-high, precipitous cliffs atop of which lies a popular glider port, and as you look around, you’ll notice that for the most part, people are in groups. You’ll see volleyball teams and horseshoe tournaments, friendly barbecues, and Frisbee dudes. No matter what people are doing—whether surfing, drinking, fishing, or birdwatching—it’s a safe bet they’re doing it as a group activity.
And that’s what makes it all so special. Anyone can hang out naked alone at home (yawn), but it’s much more fun to enjoy fellowship with like-minded people who help empower our desire to express ourselves nude. And at beaches like Black’s, groups of regulars are watchful for bad behavior such as lewd conduct, picture taking, or sexual aggression. They’re also protective of individuals (generally females) who might fall victim to such harassment. For most naturists, nude recreation is not a solo sport. We’re talking bosom buddies through and through.
8 Reap the Benefits of a Better Night’s Sleep
A true naturist understands the benefits of sleeping in the buff. You get a better night’s sleep when you cool down, and you drift off much quicker, so it’s definitely time to ditch that flannel nightgown or fleece pajama pants. And try to keep your bedroom around 65°F for best results. Not only is a better night’s slumber good for your mental health, but it’s also great for your physical well-being. For one thing, sound sleep is a prerequisite for healthy skin, and since naturists generally show off a lot of skin, it’s a full-circle win-win!
Sleeping naked in a cool room also helps keep your waist trim as you’re more likely to burn calories while in bed, and women who sleep nude rather than in their knickers—which can collect sweat—are less likely to suffer from yeast infections. Men also benefit down yonder as cooler testicles at night lead to a higher sperm count and concentration, meaning increased fertility levels. All this makes one wonder why a young couple would choose NOT to sleep nude together…
And while on the topic, when a couple slumbers together naked, it stimulates their relationship in ways other than purely sexual. The skin-to-skin contact releases in both of them oxytocin, a hormone that seems to have a bonding effect on couples. Research studies find that not only does oxytocin stimulate eye-to-eye contact between partners, but it also seems to be a factor in keeping them together. And that’s about as good as it gets.
7 Better Skin and Better Bones
The nudist lifestyle also has many benefits for your skin during the waking hours. Wearing clothes in hot weather can cause bacteria to accumulate in sweaty patches right up against your skin, often resulting in pimples, rashes, and breakouts. And harsh chemicals used to make textiles wrinkle-free or stain-resistant can also irritate the skin. Beyond that, restrictive clothes, especially underwear, often have bands and straps that dig into our bodies uncomfortably, after time leaving permanent creases. And some clothing can be downright itchy! Imagine having to wear a heavy woolen sweater to a summer pool party.
More importantly, nude sunbathing is a good source of vitamin D, which is essential for maintaining strong bones, teeth, and immunity. The human body processes the vitamin through exposure to sunlight much more efficiently than through diet or supplements—and without the risk of overdosing as our bodies also know when to stop making the stuff. As for how much of it our bodies can manufacture, however, it depends on the time of day, personal skin tone, geographic location, and whether or not sunblock is used. Sound confusing?
Any seasoned naturist, however, knows how to best “mine” vitamin D while sunbathing. And the first and foremost rule is that the more skin exposed, the better the yield (plus, it’s a lot more fun that way). Noontime is best when the sun is directly overhead, and this solar bounty is much more efficiently received by our bodies the closer to the equator one might reside. Lighter-skinned sunbathers manufacture more of the vitamin faster than darker-skinned individuals whose melanin gets in the way, so some people may need to lay out a bit longer than others. And while sunblock is always recommended for prolonged exposure, to better harvest vitamin D, one might allow himself to turn pink first before applying the stuff, which should take perhaps 15 to 20 minutes.
From our skin down to our bones, a naturist lifestyle is a healthy and comfortable choice.
6 Everyone Is on Equal Ground When They’re Naked
One of the most satisfyingly pleasant feelings brought on by partaking in naturist activities with others is not at all physical. It’s an emotional sense of being equal with everyone else—cuz everyone’s starkers! The outfits we pick out each morning to wear are costumes, or shells, carefully selected to represent ourselves to others. There are businessmen who wear fancy suits boasting opulence and chefs with white aprons announcing their trade. There are first responders in uniforms which command respect and admiration and workers in orange vests that betray a life of manual labor. The clothes we wear seem to be our badge of social strata in which we walk, and often we find it hard to look another person in their eyes if their outfit outranks ours on a societal level.
But throw a naked garden party, and problem solved! When people meet unclothed for the first time, they truly see one another as human individuals without the pretense of costume. You could be shaking hands with an artist or an attorney, a plumber or a preacher. And what a genuine handshake!—just two individuals, naked and vulnerable, offering greetings from equal ground without presumption or duplicity! You might have just made the acquaintance of a grocer or an airline pilot, and either way, it’s all good.
The Japanese have a term called “hadaka no tsukiai,” which means “naked relationship” (sometimes called “skinship”), but this by no means implies sexual intimacy. It is an ancient practice of bathing together publicly in onsens, or bathhouses, on equal terms while wearing neither a stitch nor an ounce of pretense. Communal bathing has gone on for hundreds of years in Japan—and many other parts of the world—while hot springs across the U.S. are increasingly becoming intolerant of nudity, either only allowing it after dark or totally banning it altogether. This is a trend Americans might want to reconsider as “skinship” seems to be a pretty cool way to make a new friend.
5 Swimsuits Are for Suckers!
Nothing feels better than plunging into a lake or a pool buck naked. The coolness of the water all over your body sans the restrictive swimsuit is pure bliss to the point you wonder why everyone doesn’t swim that way. For those who have never tried it, just imagine going to your favorite beach au naturel and emerging from the water without sand in your crotch from within a drenched suit that remains cold, wet, and itchy after the rest of you has dried. Imagine the luxurious freedom of bursting from the surf feeling fresh and invigorated, as the overhead sun tingles warmly on each and every curve of your body. You’d run the risk, however, of never wanting to wear a swimsuit again for life!
Swimming nude has even been recommended in a professional journal of the U.S. Public Health Service, at least regarding dealing with the swarms of sea lice that afflict Florida’s southern Atlantic coast each summer. The misnamed sea lice are actually jellyfish larvae that get caught between a swimmer’s skin and bathing suit, and once they start biting, they leave an eyesore of an itchy rash that can last for days. Nude swimmers never have a problem with sea lice; unfortunately, despite advocacy for ditching swimsuits by an official government journal, public nudity—with little exception—is a punishable offense in the state of Florida (and the other 49 too), with the possibility of felony charges. Thus, the sea lice issue will not be going away anytime soon.
Of course, there was a time in America when skinny dipping in the creek or some backwoods swim hole was about as normal and natural as apple pie, and nobody had to identify as a nudist or naturist to do so. It just felt right, especially on a hot summer day, and it made sense, too, as a hundred years back, not all households had indoor plumbing, which made bathing difficult. Funny how back then, the guys at the swim hole hadn’t a clue they were involved in felonious activity.
4 That Feeling of Becoming One with Nature
It’s common nowadays to feel estranged from Mother Nature, and there’s no better way to re-establish a strong connection to the natural world than through nudist recreation. It’s a beautiful sensation to have the warm sun and a light breeze accentuate your nudity as you traipse along a backwoods trail or open stretch of beach. And while people have been running around naked since Adam and Eve, the modern-day naturist movement as we know it with emphasis on “nature” was born within the German Empire of the mid-nineteenth century.
Lebensreform was the German term for various social movements which veered away from urbanization and longed for a more natural way of life. One example was the Freikörperkultur, or FKK, which was, and still is, a naturist way of life encouraging mental and physical balance by enjoying nature while naked. The lifestyle had grown quite widespread up until the Nazi Party of the twentieth century tried to quash the movement. Still, it had already spread to other countries in many different forms, and one of those countries was the U.S.
If you look through a comprehensive list of nudist camps and resorts throughout the States, you’ll notice two themes they all share. The first, of course, is naturism; the second is the concept of “nature” itself. While non-nudists could not imagine stepping outside without wearing clothes, a true naturist would explore the world in the buff if allowed! This is why naturist gatherings are always by the sea, on a lake, in the woods, or even up a mountain.
The Bare Mountain Retreat is just 30 minutes from Boise, Idaho, and during the summer, you can hike naked to the top of the mountain to enjoy a majestic, alpine vista not to be forgotten. And over in Colorado, just 20 miles from the city of Denver, lies the Mountain Air Ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Visitors can enjoy 10 miles of private hiking trails through a pristine coniferous forest full of foxes, birds, and deer—and none of the aforementioned need to wear a stitch!
So, whether it be backpacking or birdwatching, gardening or glamping, if you’re going to be a naturist, you’re going to have to experience a lot of nature. Just watch out for the poison ivy.
3 A Great Way to Stay Active!
Naturists sure like to kick back and relax as they sunbathe on their favorite, comfy beach towel. But more often than not, they’re up off that towel and breaking a sweat…
A good way to kick off summer, for instance, is by taking a nude hike. June 21 has been designated Naked Hiking Day, a celebration that is practically becoming an official holiday in the naturist community. And while many participants choose to celebrate the day on private land, others get a bit more adventurous. There is no federal law against nudity, so many hikers choose to cavort clothing-free in national parks, believing themselves immune to law enforcement. Though, in all reality, they at least run the risk of disorderly conduct charges. It’s risky business either way you look at it, but the concept of safety in numbers pertains to naturists also. If interested, one might want to hit the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail, both of which seem to be rather popular for backpacking nudists on the first day of summer.
Nude volleyball seems like such a fun and carefree way to spend time at the beach, but as the summer winds down at the White Thorn Lodge in western Pennsylvania, the game is taken very seriously. The annual Superbowl of Naked Volleyball is always held on the weekend following Labor Day, with more than 90 different teams participating. This is a major event with over 1,500 contenders and spectators arriving each year. And though non-nudist players are welcome to compete, on the actual court, everyone must be naked except for footwear. The competition has become so popular that in 2009, ESPN hosted a team, which included a senior writer who penned an article of the festival for their magazine. And yes, just like the other players, the ESPN teammates were required to leave their outfits behind when they stepped onto the court.
There’s naked surfing, naked horseshoes, naked tennis, and even, if you look hard enough, naked skiing. And after partaking in all that arduous activity, you’d probably be mighty grateful for the opportunity to lay back down upon your favorite, comfy beach towel…
2 A Great Way to Get into Politics…
…or at least protests. Take GoTopless Day, for instance. Each year on the Sunday closest to Women’s Equality Day, which falls on August 26 (the anniversary of the enactment of the 19th Amendment), women march with their breasts exposed in cities across America. This is all in honor of gender equality, the logic being that the denial of voting rights prior to 1920 and the intolerance of women going topless in public are gender-based decisions and therefore biased. These nipple-friendly protests are held in cities such as New York, Venice Beach, and Denver, to name a few, though COVID-19 seems to have shut several down like it has everything else. But not to worry, guys, you’re welcome to march too. Though, ironically, many of the men that do often wear brassieres. Go figure!
Or maybe a naked bike ride might fulfill both your naturist and activist needs at once. Since founder Conrad Schmidt conceived the World Naked Bike Ride in 2003, it has grown immensely in popularity across the world, and each year participants strip down, don a helmet (hopefully), and “Bare as You Dare” on bikes and the occasional skateboard. The original theme of the first event was to protest war, but that morphed early on into a statement against oil dependency plus a celebration of the human body.
These festive bike rides are currently held annually in 70 cities representing 20 countries, but the theme has narrowed in to focus on cyclist advocacy for the most part. The WNBR has been held in dozens of cities across the United States on various dates. Though many communities have strict laws against indecent exposure, there have been relatively few arrests made. As long as the bikers keep on moving, most people turn a blind eye (figuratively) to the events.
And if naked protests are becoming your favorite pastime at this point, you should definitely move to San Francisco. People in that city have been known to rally in the buff over issues such as sex-worker rights, police brutality, and even the 2008 Olympic torch controversy. Hell—there are actually naked protests over the nudity ban the city had to pass in 2012 (mainly due to all that naked protesting). But really…if the cold winds whipping across the Bay Area can’t even get San Franciscans to keep on their clothes, how effective can the stupid ban be?
1 Leafless Longevity
Have you ever wondered why there are so many older folks at nudist camps? Many different arguments suggest membership prices are just too high for a younger crowd or that a lack of interactive internet advertising, which Generations Y and Z are used to, turn them away. Another theory is that the larger proportion of older nudists represents a generation of flower-child persuasions that often stripped at concerts and protests, and old habits die hard. But studies also suggest that naturists live longer than the random “textilist,” a term for someone who insists on wearing clothes. So cast away that figurative fig leaf and stock up on Ensure because the odds are you’re going to be around for a while if you live naked…
Other than while bathing, some people are never really nude for longer than a minute or two while changing. In his 2014 book entitled A Short Guide to a Long Life, Dr. David B. Agus suggests that this is not a good thing. Instead, a person should take the time to examine themselves naked in a mirror at least once a week or more, as blotches and rashes that would otherwise go unseen can be indicators of medical issues, such as skin cancer, that we need to jump on.
Nude recreation with others in a group setting further safeguards us against ignoring the warning signs that our body might be trying to show us. And when we’re back home alone looking in that mirror, it’s also a good idea to take note of areas of our bodies that could use improvement and jump on those issues too. Just be sure to reward yourself with compliments as you watch your waist get smaller or your complexion clears up over time, for a healthy sense of being comfortable in your skin keeps you longer in your skin.
Furthermore, Dr. Len Kravitz, professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico, once stated in a lecture in 2015 that longevity is dependent on minimizing stress, proper exercise, a good social life, and fun activities that provide laughter. All that sounds an awful lot like a regular day at a nudist resort! But does a naturist lifestyle really lend longevity or just leisure?
Benjamin Franklin, with his naked cold-air baths, lived to be 84, which was pretty ancient in his day. And how about actress Helen Mirren, who readily admits to enjoying nude recreation, and who, at 76, is still healthy, vital, and beautiful. But the proof of the pudding might be Christiane Lecocq (no snickering!), founder of the French Naturist Foundation, who died at the age of 103 in 2015.
So…while you might encounter a large group of old folks at your local nudist club, what you probably won’t see are walkers, wheelchairs, and oxygen tanks. You’ll be seeing healthy, happy, active people enjoying life, laughter, and longevity—and all while working an all-over tan.