Fitness in the Wilderness.
A Wilderness Man Article
There seems to be a relatively prominent trend with outdoor enthusiast. Many, at least from my observations, are also fitness enthusiasts. Coming with a formal education in Kinesiology and Exercise science but also a passion for the outdoors I consider myself to be part of that trend. Many people have difficulties taking off days or going for prolonged periods time with out exercise. For example on a 7 day canoe trip I myself also struggled with taking rest days. Below are a few helpful tips to deal with it that i have picked up along the way:
Don’t take rest days
If your an exercise junky/outdoors lover finding common ground when on trips can be difficult. You don’t want to feel bad by not exercising and you also don’t want to ruin your trip. The simplest explanation is often the correct one. Solution: do both. Keep your exercise light and simple but don’t let it take anything from your trip. Rather let it compliment it. Nothing is better then a cold plunge in a clear lake after working out in the northern dirt or running in the woods. Doing both is solution to prevent non exercise regret and not feel bad about skipping days. You can have your cake and eat it to. But if your a health nut you might skip the cake.
Don’t over do it and keep it light
I know what your thinking. Who can possibly paddle for 8 hours or hike 30 k and exercise after? I hear you. Don’t over do it. On trips with deadlines, distances to be covered or long portages I forgo the exercise all together. Don’t forget the activities your doing in the woods are exercises most people never get to do. Paddling a kayak or carrying a 40 pound bag is not easy work and are often activities most people are not accustomed to. So if you love exercise but have never hiked or paddled all day don’t be surprised if you think you can work out after but instead find your self in the tent at 8pm exhausted. Be smart and be safe. Only do what you can easily do. If you over do it at the gym it can make stairs difficult. You over exert your self in the woods and it makes your entire life difficult. I am a big fan of weights, I like to lift as heavy as I can, working on strength and power. Both of which don’t typically get worked on trips where endurance is the main game. So I typically do upper body power lightly a few times on extended hiking trips where my upper body is neglected from the hike. Vice versa I do lower body strength and power on paddling trips where my lower body is crammed into a canoe or kayak. Then on relaxing trips with a base camp where I typically stay for several days and just relax I like to use a TRX and do everything. The rules still apply; keep it light and easy and don’t do anything you think you shouldn’t.
Get some gear or use whats around you
If I am not concerned about pack weight or size I like to bring a TRX. Its small, light and exceptionally versatile. I love my TRX. Never have I been unable to find a tree or branch to suspend it from. If your not familiar with a TRX its a suspension system that uses your own body weight on varying angles as resistance. During an 8 month road trip in Australia my girl friend and I worked out several days a week with it in public parks, open spaces and even off the side of fences. It is an excellent piece of gear which I recommend to any one looking to stay fit with a minimum budget and who needs mobility and versatility in a piece of exercise equipment. Learn more about the TRX at www.trxtraining.com. And no I am not endorsed or sponsored by them in any way. On the contrary I think they have an excellent product.
Alternatively you can simply use what you have available or whats around you. Chin ups on sturdy tree branches, Box jumps on fallen logs or stumps, rear foot elevate split squat off your kayak, mobility drills with your paddle, single leg squats with your paddle. The list is endless. If your interested in a fitness in the wilderness program please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make it fun
Some people love exercise some people hate it. But even the people who love it hate boring workouts. So when your in the wilderness make sure to make it fun. Have a competition with a friend. Wait patiently in a wall squat (on a tree) until an easily spooked animal walks or flies by. Make it as fun as possible and you will be sure to stick with it.
To all the outdoor lovers who also like to keep fit I hope these simple tips help you out. Everything said is to be used only to your ability and at your own desecration. Before starting any exercise plan, it is recommended to talk to a doctor.