Spending a week in the great outdoors, breathing in that fresh country air, can do wonders for your mind, body and soul. And while you don’t need to be particularly fit to camp (other than being able to carry your camping gear), being out in the open is a great place to do some exercise, from running and hiking, to using the natural resources around you in your exercise routine. Of course if you’re planning a trekking adventure then you will need a good level of fitness to tackle those strenuous mountain trails.

What exercise can I do whilst camping?

If you’re seeking a more active kind of holiday, there are plenty of campsites and parks which offer fun activities. Many locations will have options to do water sports such as swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking. And in some places, you’ll be able to hike, run or go mountain biking. Equipment (kayaks, bikes etc) are often available to hire so you can pack more lightly. You’ll also find tennis courts, horse riding and golf at sites all over the country. 

Or if you’re a gym buff and feel you’re going to miss out on lifting weights whilst on your camping trip then do not fear. There are plenty of ways to turn your natural surroundings into a home gym if you think creatively. 

  • Tree branch pull-ups: to strengthen your upper body. Find a tree branch that’s a similar thickness to a pull-up bar (making sure it’s strong enough to support your weight) and with your palms facing away from you, grab the branch and slowly pull your body upwards until your chin is level with the branch. Lower your body and repeat.
  • Sit-ups under the stars: to strengthen your core whilst enjoying twinkling night sky views. Find a flat patch of ground, free of any uncomfortable twigs or stones. Make sure you place your hands by your ears and are not pulling on your neck.
  • Picnic bench dips: to help build your biceps, triceps and strengthen your core. Facing away from the bench (or knee-height rock), get into a sitting position with your legs stretched out, and lower yourself until your triceps are parallel with the floor. Lift back up and repeat.

You can also do lunges or squats easily anywhere, and why not fill your backpack with rocks to add some extra weight and intensify your workout?

What healthy foods can I pack for my camping trip?

When camping, it’s easy to opt for unhealthy snacks like crisps and chocolate as they don’t require any preparation. Or you might be tempted to eat out and go for that calorific pizza or hamburger. But it is also easy to eat healthily too, with wholesome, nutrient-rich food which requires minimal cooking equipment or that you can prepare at home before you set off. Here are a few healthy food ideas to keep you well nourished and full of energy to explore the great outdoors:

  • Breakfast: is arguably the most important meal of the day. When you wake up your blood sugars are usually low, so breakfast helps to replenish it to help your brain and muscles work at their best. You also need those essential nutrients to keep your energy up through the day, especially if you’re planning on hiking, biking or doing any other activities.

Good breakfast options:

- Eggs

- Nuts & seeds

- Grains (brown bread, granola, porridge)

- Fruit (opt for dried fruit for later in the week)

  • Lunch: will provide the nutrients to keep the body and brain working efficiently through the afternoon. Eating regular, nutritious meals will help you maintain a healthy weight as you’ll be less likely to snack. 

Good lunch options:

- Wraps, pitta or rye crispbreads

- Whole-grain pasta

- Rice or noodles

- Salad

  • Dinner: is an important meal. Skipping dinner will result in a large gap between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the next day. Extreme hunger can cause nausea and disturbed sleep. Do as much chopping and prepping as you can at home and pack your food in air-tight containers in the cooler.

Good dinner options:

- Salmon or tuna (keep in a cooler & eat on day 1)

- Chicken (it’s best to pre-cook at home)

- Soup or stew (made ahead of time)

- Roasted vegetables

If you’re going to be camping for a week or more, you’ll need to pack plenty of food and snacks which won’t go off, such as:

  • Nuts, seeds and dried fruit
  • Cereal bars
  • Fruit/vegetable puree in squeezable pouches
  • Canned fish, poultry or meat
  • Individual packets of mayo, mustard and ketchup

Whole-grain pasta, couscous, dried soups

But most importantly, make sure you drink plenty of water. Our body is made up of around 60% water, and keeping hydrated helps with nutrient transportation, temperature regulation and digestion. It helps fight fatigue and boosts productivity. Plus it helps our kidneys filter out the stuff our body doesn’t need.

Plan your meals so you know how much food and drink you need to take with you. Take mostly dry, non-perishable food that will last for your whole trip, and prepare and pre-cook as much of the fresh food as you can at home before you set off on your trip. Store in air-tight containers in your cooler and eat in the first day or two. And don’t forget the all important marshmallows for toasting on the campfire. Bon Appétit!