Not all outdoor adventures are created equal. Some require only a little amount of physical preparation, like hiking, visiting the beach, or camping. Most of the time, people who embark on these types of adventures don’t even think about preparing their body for the physical activity they’re going to do but experience little to no consequences afterward.
However, there are also outdoor adventures that are physically demanding. These types of trips cannot be done without at least some semblance of physical preparation beforehand–lest you want to put yourself at risk during the activity or suffer the physical consequences, or both.
If your next trip involves a physically demanding activity like hiking a difficult path or rapid water rafting, here are some of the best ways to prepare your body:
1. Know your limits
First things first, you have to know where your limits lie. Choose the right type of activity for your fitness and experience level. For instance, if you decide to go on a Zion National Park tour that involves riding an ATV, you might want to go with the option that lets you ride with a guide for a “wilder” adventure if you have a moderately high physical fitness level as well as enough experience riding an ATV.
It’s tempting to just dive into an exciting activity even if you aren’t sure that you can handle it. However, doing this can also mean putting yourself at risk of injury if the activity happens to be too difficult for your fitness level and/or skill level. There is nothing that can ruin a trip faster than getting hurt, so assess yourself first if the activity you’re planning to do is within your current abilities.
2. Improve your physical condition
Physical conditioning is the best way to prepare your body for the activities that you plan to do. If you don’t work out regularly, start increasing your physical activity at least a few weeks before the trip. Incorporate exercises into your routine that can help prepare yourself for the activities you’re planning to do. For example, if you’re going on a long-haul hike on difficult terrain, put more time into the StairMaster to strengthen your leg muscles and make it easier for you to climb inclines. Leg strength is incredibly important for almost any outdoor adventure. Luckily, it won’t take that long (maybe two to three weeks with regular leg exercises) to see an improvement.
Keep in mind that if you don’t work out regularly, you would have to put in more work to condition your body. However, avoid overdoing your workouts as you could risk injuring yourself before you even go on the trip. If you’re carrying a little extra weight, the exercise can also help you lose a few pounds, which will make it easier for you to move your body while climbing, swimming, or hiking.
3. Buy the right gear
Proper gear is essential for your safety and comfort. Look up the basic gear required for the activity that you plan to do and invest in the best quality that your budget allows. For instance, if you plan to hike in the middle of winter, invest in good quality base layers, outer layers, outdoor shoes, heat packs, and other gear that will help keep you comfortable and safe.
4. Practice with your backpack
If your next outdoor adventure will involve carrying a backpack around for the majority of the time, it’s a good idea to practice carrying the load that you intend to bring so that your body can grow accustomed to the weight. Aside from that, practicing with a loaded backpack will also help strengthen your muscles, condition your body, and prepare you mentally for the physical demands of the trip.
5. Cut out unhealthy food
Suddenly going from a diet of boxed meals and fast food to high-protein snacks and small portions can throw anyone for a loop. So if unhealthy food (high-calorie, low-nutrient foods) is a big part of your diet, it’s a good idea to start reducing your intake a few weeks before your epic outdoor adventure. Replace the cookies and high-sodium chips with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and other nutrient-rich foods. At the same time, supplement your diet with adequate hydration.
Doing this will help shed extra pounds that can weigh you down during your adventure. Moreover, a healthy diet will further condition your body, making it more energized and ever prepared for the physically demanding activities that you plan to do.
Don’t put yourself at risk of injuries, sore muscles, and just a generally bad time during your next adventure. With these strategies, you can prepare your body for the physical activities you’re going to take part in, as well as help put your mentality in the right place.