by Jessica Von Duerring, Senior Copywriter and Certified Pilates Instructor
For many, camping conjures images of sleeping in a tent under the stars, grilling hot dogs on sticks, roasting marshmallows in an aromatic campfire, awakening to a gloriously crisp dawn breaking amidst the sounds of birds singing, and generally roughing it and having fun in the great outdoors. While a night or two on the campground may not inflict damage on your physique, a week or longer may cause unwanted side effects if you’re not prepared. Here’s how to maintain your health even when you’re out in the middle of the woods.
First, search for areas with plenty of space and hiking trails to avoid sitting around the campsite all day long. Bring a Frisbee, play cornhole or horseshoe, go swimming or kayaking if there’s a nearby lake, or toss a ball. A morning or afternoon of hiking can burn a high number of calories, and even more if the terrain has hills to climb or if you jog on the flat areas.
Secondly, incorporate some equipment-free workouts during the day. For example, you can do a series of jumping jacks, lunges, squats or push-ups. Try doing a “wall push-up” against a tree or use a downed tree to do elevated push-ups. You can also practice balance work by walking across the downed tree, use the tree to do tricep dips, or jump back and forth over the tree to amp up your cardio. Just look around you and use your imagination – the possibilities are endless.
Lastly, you will want to eat healthy during your camping trip. Exercise will not do any good if you are overeating on unhealthy foods. Be sure to pack plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Apples, oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, onions, peppers, pineapple, peaches, berries and watermelon are all good examples of produce that will hold up well while camping. Keep lean meats, eggs and low-fat cheeses in a cooler packed with ice (or dry ice – which lasts longer). Bring whole grain bread and muffins, and pasta or brown rice that can be boiled in a pot over the fire or cooked beforehand and then reheated. For an ideal snack, a trail mix that consists of nuts, dried fruit and a cereal low in sugar provides quick protein and energy by the handful. It’s understandable if the “gold standard” of camping desserts – s’mores – cannot be sacrificed, so indulge only sparingly and use dark chocolate and add strawberries to make them healthier. It is also important to stay hydrated while camping with plenty of water, especially when increasing your activity. Consider bringing your own jugs of water, or purify water from lakes, streams and springs. And, go ahead and have a beer, some wine or your morning coffee, but keep in mind that these beverages are dehydrating and you will need even more water as a result.
What’s not to love about camping? It is a spectacular way to spend inexpensive quality time with family and friends while rejuvenating in nature. Keep these tips in mind, and with minimal effort and planning, you can enjoy a healthy camping trip that’s never short on fun!