Today’s post comes from Sarah McMichael, Healthy People Coordinator for Healthy Parks Ontario.
Backcountry camping is known for being a way to experience beautiful and serene landscapes. But a trip to the countryside also provides the opportunity to challenge yourself physically and mentally.
The combination of paddling, carrying, and cross-country walking is a great full-body workout. Plus, you’ll experience plenty of health benefits simply from being outdoors.
This summer, hit the countryside for a great full-body workout. Let’s do it!
Transport your way to better strength
Your off-piste training starts with transportation. Transportation can be physically challenging, but equally rewarding. Between canoes, backpacks, and food barrels, you could easily carry over 100 pounds of gear on your own each time you portage.
The carry will exercise your lower body as you maneuver through rocky and potentially uneven trails while carrying your gear to get to the next paddling spot. Balancing canoes and other heavy objects on rough terrain will also improve your balance.
Your arms and shoulders will also get a workout as you lift heavy equipment overhead and over your shoulders.
If you’re not very active in the winter, be sure to prepare for your first trip of the year by doing some exercises before you head out. You can easily burn out if you are not in proper shape. Try short jogs, lifting weights, and doing push-ups and sit-ups.
Rowing for health
Due to the long distances of off-piste trips, you end up paddling quite a bit. Fortunately, rowing is good for your body in many ways.
Rowing is a complete upper body workout. You will increase muscle strength in your back, arms, shoulders and chest by moving the paddle against the natural resistance of the water. You’ll also increase your core strength each time you paddle forward and use those muscles to stay stable in your canoe.
Rowing is a low-impact activity, which reduces the risk of joint wear and tear compared to many other activities. Rowing is also a great exercise to raise your heart rate and improve cardiovascular health.
Benefits of being outdoors
During your trip to the countryside, you’ll also experience a host of brain and body health benefits simply from being outdoors.
Camping in nature takes us away from common daily stresses such as traffic, work and noise pollution. Instead, we are exposed to relaxing sights and stress-reducing sounds, such as waves, rushing rivers, and birdsong.
We’ve always known that fresh air is good for us and what better way to get a dose of fresh air than on a trip to the countryside?
Spending more time in nature means breathing more oxygen and less pollution. Your body works with less effort when there is plenty of oxygen. The extra oxygen also causes the body to release serotonin, which is considered to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness.
Don’t forget to sunbathe! Research has shown that vitamin D can help protect against multiple diseases, is important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth, and may even help prevent some forms of cancer. Combine your time in the sun with skin protection, such as hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Lastly, you can capture some important Z’s while you’re in the field. Sleeping away from artificial light and waking up to natural sunlight can reset your circadian rhythm, helping you feel refreshed after a better night’s sleep.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself!
Backcountry camping is a challenging adventure, but this exciting experience comes with a wide range of important precautions to keep you safe and healthy during your trip.
You’ll definitely work up an appetite with all the transportation and paddling. Pack enough food to keep your energy levels high throughout the trip. You should also make sure you have enough water to stay hydrated.
Make sure you are prepared for all possible hazards and emergencies that may occur in the field. Pack maps, compass, PFD, and a first aid kit.
If you’re prepared for the trip, you and your campmates better be safe in the backcountry.
After all, nothing is more rewarding than putting your body to the test to reach landscapes of incredible beauty in the countryside.