Getting Fit for the Great Outdoors

Getting Fit for the Great Outdoors

No matter what kind of outdoor activities you may enjoy, whether it’s hiking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, kayaking, nature & wildlife photography, or any other pursuit, being healthy and fit will no doubt help you to enjoy your time in the woods or on the water all the more. Striving to stay in good physical shape…no matter your age…will greatly improve your overall bodily health, increase your energy level, reduce stress, stimulate your intellectual and creative abilities, help you sleep better at night, and promote an overall sense of happiness and wellbeing.

Many outdoor activities, such as hiking, are great forms of exercise in and of themselves as they provide cardiovascular benefit as well as low-impact, light to moderate resistance for maintaining or developing muscle strength. Not to mention, simply being outside and getting some fresh, clean air and vitamin D from the sun can do wonders for you. If you’re taking on a more advanced outdoor activity or getting geared up for a rigorous adventure, however, such as a challenging backpacking expedition, a big game hunting trip, or any other pursuit that will be a major physical and mental challenge, then you’ll most likely need to elevate your level of fitness and perhaps even do some serious specialized training in preparation. Not being in shape, especially for those more demanding outdoor pursuits, is the fastest way to both failure and perhaps even serious injury, or worse. What follows is some tips for getting in shape and achieving a greater level of fitness for the great outdoors

Tip #1 – Do a Reality Check

outdoor fitness

It can be quite shocking just how fast getting out of shape, gaining weight, and developing health issues can sneak up you. As a first step to getting on the path to being fit and healthy or greatly advancing your level of strength and conditioning, it’s important to do an honest reality check. Even though you may have been in great shape in the past and all was well with your health, again, issues can sneak up when least expected, so put aside your pride and get a health evaluation from a professional to make sure your body can handle the new demands you’re about to place on it. And along with getting yourself psychically ready for a new exercise program, make sure you’re prepared mentally, as a serious training regimen will require a firm commitment and a great deal of self-discipline.

 

Tip #2 – Proper Training

outdoor fitness. Workout and exercises for bow hunting, hiking

If your fitness goal is simply to increase your overall strength, cardiovascular conditioning, and flexibility in order to get out and enjoy life more, then a general program consisting of stretching, strength training (such as weight lifting), and cardio, such as running, walking, or swimming, will be the core elements of your program. How much and how often you train will all depend on your age, current fitness level, as well as what your specific goals are. If you’re new to working out or need some help to get started, then joining a local gym or working with a trainer might be a good place to start.

If you’re already in good shape and know what you’re doing in the gym, but, you need to up your game in preparation for a demanding outdoor adventure of one kind or another, then you’ll most likely need to customize your training more specific to exactly what that adventure entails. For example, if you’re getting ready for a big game hunt in a place like Alaska, you’ll need to be able to hike for miles a day through challenging terrain with a moderately heavy pack on your back and also be able to mentally and physically endure punishing weather extremes. And, if your hunt is successful, you’ll need to be able to pack out very heavy loads of meat on your back for many miles…again…through very challenging and often treacherous terrain. Depending on the size of the game animal you harvest, this might mean packing out as much as several hundred pounds of meat, sometimes over the course of several days. If you’re not in shape for such a task, your dream hunt will quickly turn into your worst nightmare!

To get ready for such an adventure, your training should closely mimic what you’ll actually be doing out in the field. Going with the hunting example, taking long hikes with a heavy pack on trails with similar terrain features in your area is a great way to develop the muscles you’ll be using on the hunt. Along with that, building up your overall muscle strength and stamina with medium to high repetition weight training will likewise get your body ready for the sustained physical demands you’ll be experiencing. Compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses offer fantastic conditioning for the entire body.

Again, the main focus and goal of your training should be to mimic the demands of the activity you’re preparing for. While all this may sound intimidating to some, keep in mind that you don’t need to achieve the fitness level of an Olympic athlete. You simply need to be in the best possible shape that you can be in and be properly conditioned for your upcoming adventure. You also need to be humble and honest enough to admit when you’re not up to the challenge or you may need more time to prepare. On a final note, if you’re going on a demanding adventure with a group of people, don’t take advantage of their kindness or make them suffer because you failed to get in shape yourself.

 

Step Three – Set Goals and Monitor Your Progress

outdoor fitness. Set SMART goals.

No matter what your particular exercise program consists of, it’s vitally important to track your progress and set goals for yourself in order to keep moving in the right direction. Make it a point to set a few, big, major goals to focus on as your ultimate target, and then develop a set of smaller goals to help you reach those big ones. Like any goals that you set for yourself in life, no matter how big or small, those goals should be SMART goals, that is, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Documenting your goals and monitoring your progress in a notebook or log is a great way to stay on track and it’s also very self-motivating.

So those are a few tips and ideas to hopefully get you started on the path to getting in better shape so you can get out there and enjoy your time in the great outdoors all the more. Watch the video below to see more…

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