Outdoor activities often mean outdoor exercise, even if it happens passively. An intentional fitness plan can help you keep track of (and achieve) your health and wellness goals while you simultaneously engage in your favorite outdoor adventures.
Outdoor exercise activities can include both work and recreational activities that are already common to the outdoor experience. For example, an outdoor strength exercise could be as simple as chopping wood.
There are four major categories of exercise that we will cover in this article: endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. We’ll also go over the safety measures you should take while working on your outdoor fitness goals.
Endurance training is any type of training or exercise that gets your breathing and heart rate up for extended periods of time. There are two different components to endurance exercises: cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance. Cardiovascular endurance is how well your heart and lungs can fuel your body with oxygen. Muscular endurance is how long you can work your muscles without them getting tired.
Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Outdoor endurance activities can help you build your cardiovascular and muscular endurance even more because of the rugged terrain, environmental elements, and elevation.
- Hiking: Hiking uphill or on rugged terrain can increase your heart rate and improve your endurance.
- Biking: Bike rides through wooded trails can improve your endurance even more than stationary biking or road biking.
- Swimming: A long swim is a great cardiovascular exercise that you can do while camping or enjoying the outdoors.
- Running: Running is the best way to get your heart rate up and increase your endurance, especially on outdoor trails with rugged terrain.
Strength training is an important part of overall health. It helps you reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass, and burn calories more efficiently. It’s also been known to build cognitive skills in older adults.
Many tasks in your day-to-day life involve strength training in a passive way. Things like lifting heavy packages or equipment, picking up your child, or carrying groceries into your house.
But it’s important to make sure you’re including strength training in your exercise regime as well. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are a lot of outdoor exercise activities that you can do. These activities should all be approached with care and precaution.
- Chopping wood: The repetitive motion, the weight of the ax, and the strength required to cut through wood makes this a great outdoor exercise activity.
- Rock climbing: You’ll increase your upper and lower body strength with rock climbing.
- Kayaking, canoeing, or rowing: These are great strength training exercises for your upper body.
Flexibility training is an important part of your overall health. Proper flexibility training can improve your range of motion, making it easier to move around.
Flexibility training is especially great for you in the morning after you wake up. It’s also great after sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Flexibility training is something you can easily do outside, especially while camping. There are some great flexibility camping exercises that you can do to loosen up your joints after sleeping on the ground or staying still for a long time.
Extra care should be taken when doing flexibility training outdoors, simply because you’re doing these exercises on hard, uneven ground or rugged terrain.
- Stretching while fishing: It’s important to stretch when you’re doing any activity where you stand still for long periods of time, including fishing.
- Morning yoga while camping: After sleeping on the ground, your muscles and joints will feel much better when you wake up and complete a morning yoga routine!
Balance is another component of physical health that you can improve while working or recreating outside. Balance training is especially important because it helps build physical coordination and stability.
You "train" your balance by strengthening the muscles in your body that help maintain posture and stance, mainly your legs and core muscles. Balance training exercises can improve stability and increase your chances of recovering from losing your balance.
Working on your balance while camping or on an outdoor adventure can be fun. There are a few recreational activities that can help you improve your balance and stability.
- Hunting: When you hunt, you have to use your balance and coordination to successfully hit your target.
- Logrolling: This is a fun activity done in the woods, where you have to balance on a log while it rolls down a hill.
- Archery: Archery involves a level of balance and coordination while you aim for the bullseye.
Taking safety precautions while exercising is always important, but especially so if you decide to use Mother Nature's gym instead of the one down the street.
Here are some outdoor safety precautions you should take before exercising outside.
- Stay hydrated: This is so important no matter where you exercise or what type of exercise you do. An insulated, heavy-duty water bottle available on the market you can provide refreshing H2O when you need it. You can find water bottles or even water flasks that will fit into your backpack, hook onto your bag, or attach to your person in another convenient way.
- Understand hunting laws and gun safety: Even if you’re not hunting, you must know the laws and seasons. If you go camping or decide to exercise outdoors during hunting season, be aware of both the animals and activities occurring around you.
- Keep a first-aid kit handy: Always bring a first-aid kit when you go camping or on any type of outdoor adventure. Your first-aid kit should have bandaids, ointment, gauze, pain reliever, and an EpiPen if necessary.
Tell someone where you’re going: In case you lose cell phone reception or your cell phone dies, it’s important that someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return. If anything goes wrong, people will know where to look for you.