Six fitness tips for adventurers

AT Hike

I have a touchy left knee. Training before I hit the trail helps me avoid injury during my hike.

Are you fit for adventure? Notice I didn’t ask if you look good in a swimsuit. That’s because being fit for adventure isn’t about a perfectly trim figure. It’s about much more. Strength, nutrition and  cardiovascular endurance are all important facets of fitness. The good news, it’s not expensive, complicated or boring. However, it will require getting off the couch and perhaps adding new foods to your diet.

In this post, I’m going to share my fitness philosophy. These six fitness tips guide my choices week-by-week and day-by-day. Later I’ll get into the specifics one at a time.

  • Nothing is forbidden in my diet - I love food – a lot. If you told me I could never have a pint of Häagen-Dazs – Dulce De Leche again, I would defect. Instead, I apply an 80/15/5 rule to my diet. I follow a healthy plant-based diet 80 percent of the time, 15 percent of the time I choose the healthiest option available even if it’s not plant based, and 5 percent of the time, I just enjoy what I want. This flexibility isn’t just a personal need, it’s also fits my professional life as a travel blogger. My trips usually fill up the 15 percent slot because I choose to enjoy local cuisine when I travel.
  • Exercise for life, not looks – My workout routines are designed to make my adventure activities safer and more enjoyable. I incorporate plyometric and balance moves into my workout to achieve this goal. The importance of preparing your body before embarking on an adventure cannot be stressed enough. To be truly effective, the exercises you choose should emulate your activities as much as possible. For example, when backpacking, my lower body not only needs to handle extra weight, but also must balance that weight on uneven terrain. I use balance moves such as one-legged squats to build not just the large muscles in my legs, but the smaller stabilizing muscles as well (build up to these up gradually or risk injury).
  • Emphasize core strength – Strengthening the core of your body (the abs, back and glutes) reduces the chance of spinal injuries and improves athletic performance, balance and coordination. Core training is included in all of my exercise routines.
  • Take the long road - I’ve used this simple trick for years. Throughout your day, add some exercise by parking in the last space in the lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Whenever you have a choice, go the long way. It’s a simple and fast way to build fitness into your day.
  • Make exercise easy – I had a gym membership for years but regularly talked myself out of going because I didn’t want to pull myself together and drive to the gym. When finances got tight, I cancelled the membership but promised myself I could buy some workout gear with part of the savings. Best move I’ve ever made. Now all I have to do is make it to the living room so I exercise much more regularly (and I don’t have to comb my hair or brush my teeth). I use my collection of Pilates, Jillian Michaels and yoga videos, or I just work out to my own routines and favorite music. Granted, home workouts aren’t for everyone, but they have made a huge difference for me. Shopping carefully, I spent less than $150 on videos and gear. Look at your excuses to determine where you may need to make a change.
  • Set goals and reward yourself – Keep goals action related. Examples include, completing your workout at least three days this week, or making healthy food choices every day for five days. Action based goals you can control, but you can’t control exactly how fast or how much weight you will lose. I don’t set weight as a goal; in fact, I don’t even own a scale. If you focus on eating right and exercise, real fitness will follow. Additionally, keep most goals achievable in short periods such as a week, and then add a few longer-term goals with bigger incentives. As a reward, take some special time for yourself or buy yourself a gift.

I’ll delve further into each of these areas in separate posts, this is simple a “big picture” overview of the fitness plan that works for me. The most important thing to remember is that fitness should be a lifestyle that promotes your enjoyment of other areas of your life, such as adventure. Granted, it will have you looking good on the beach as well.

Have you found some tricks that help you stay fit and healthy? Please leave a comment below.

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Comments

  1. says

    What great fitness tips! I especially like the idea of making exercise easy. Since I live in the boonies, creating a workout that I can do at home is a necessity. DVD’s are essential to my routine.

    • Erika Wiggins says

      Thanks a bunch for your kind words Donna! I like frequent shorter workouts so doing it at home is perfect.

  2. says

    I love your fitness tips. When it comes to nutrition I think it is wrong to deny yourself foods you enjoy; however, I like that you more or less try to eat as healthy as possible 95% of the time.

    • Erika Wiggins says

      Thank you! Food is such a big part of my life, any fitness plan that didn’t accommodate that would fail with me.

  3. says

    I was happy to find this section on fitness. I’ve found that some people that I take into the field are NOT fit enough to keep up when they have the added weight of their kit/pack and other unexpected stresses. Most people think the excitement and adrenaline will see them through and that they will rise to the occasion. They do typically. But it takes a toll on them and increases their risk of injury and illness. This is why I recommend training with some additional weight periodically. For example, last Friday I did a quick 6 miles on the Natchez Trace, an ancient trail here in Tennessee. But you would have thought by my pack that I was going for much longer. Weighted vests also work well for this. Thanks for the post.

    Cheers!

    CP

    • says

      Excellent points Cameron,

      Relying on adrenaline is a setup for injury. In my post From gym to trail, I recommend hikers use weighted packs to prepare. I like the idea of a weighted vest also, but have yet to invest in one. One benefit of wearing a pack is that you bring in the center of gravity issue that throws off some hikers when they transition to the trail.

      How was the Natchez Trace? I’m always looking for a new destination.

      Erika

  4. heidi @bananabuzzbomb says

    I love it all but specifically the exercise for life, not looks. Coming from a run, run, run.background with the mentality of calories in, calories out this is all very refreshing.

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