So this post really must begin with the confessions of a marshmallow. As I mentioned in George’s Birthday Adventure: The Mojave, combatting Stay-Puft Syndrome on the road is a tall order.
And so far this year, between George’s Birthday Adventure, Geowoodstock to TBEX, two week-long camping trips in Georgia, and four trips to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Tremont, I’ve put in a whopping 12 weeks on the road. If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, you also know that I came back from our Geowoodstock to TBEX expedition sporting one monster of a broken big toe…a story I’ll save for another day.
I suppose you can see where I’m going with this…how do I keep from turning into a giant marshmallow with so much time on my butt in the car?
The truth is that most of the time I’m in damage control mode…just keeping up enough not to be in consideration for the next campfire roast. When we’re on the road I don’t want to have to spend as much time in exercise mode as I do at home. I’d rather be exploring.
On the road…
So when you’ve got a certain amount of ground to cover you can’t just stop and take a jog right? I do have a few techniques that I use to give me a little boost during the long hours on the road:
- I’m a fan of frequent breaks. Get out, move around, park away from the restroom and make it a brisk walk on the way there.
- Hopping out for a geocache…excellent move-around break with the bonus of a mental challenge.
- Mini-crunches while driving. Yep, I do little core squeezes while I drive. I mean, what else have I got to do for hours on end?
Because the kids end up doing the first two with me by default, my little exercise cheats also have bonus of keeping the kid car-zanies at bay.
Since we’re campers most of the time, just setting up camp counts as a little activity. Hauling gear and pitching the tent can actually be a decent workout, especially if you’ve gotten into camp late and you have to go into overdrive to get things set up quickly.
If the conditions and timing are right, I’ve been known to sneak away for a jog but that’s not something I can’t count on being able to do. I simply take the opportunity if it presents itself. Again, I’d rather work in some exercise between adventures than some adventure in between my exercise.
Ideally, the adventure is the exercise and usually our general activity is enough to keep me feeling active. Whether it’s hiking or even walking around a city, we can get a good amount of foot time in. Of course, there are lots of other ways to be active at your destination depending upon where you are but walking and hiking are free making them equal opportunity activities for all budget levels.
The gym in my tent…
So what’s a camper to do for strength training? There are lots of options for getting your heart rate up while exploring: hiking, biking, rock climbing, swimming…you get the idea. But when it come to maintaining strength, especially upper body, the task can get trickier.
For me, that’s when the tent becomes my gym. While I have been known to do it outside from time-to-time, I’m generally too self-conscious to conduct my strength training in the middle of a campground.
In the tent with sleeping mats and bags tucked aside, I’ll work in various ab crunches and body-weight exercises like push-ups. The great thing is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to do some simple exercises so it doesn’t cramp our exploring time.
To add a little variety, I carry a resistance band. You know we like to travel light and the band fits the bill. It’s highly versatile, allowing me to work all arm muscle groups (biceps, delts, triceps, etc.) as well as up the ante on my squats.
So as hard as it is to stay relatively fit with all of the travel, the toe complication has been an epic battle to lose as little ground as possible. Walking is slowly re-evolving out of the hobbling stage. Jogging is out of the question, as is hiking since obviously you need to be able to walk on even ground before you can hike. With limited mobility, these strength exercises are all I have separating me from marshmallow-dom for two months while the toe heals.
If you’re new to body weight and resistance band training, check out these sites to get started. I love the simplicity of these exercises even at home, but on the road they’re the crucial difference between feeling energetic and feeling lethargic.
- 50 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
- 15 Minute Workout: Exercise Bands
- Resistance Band Exercises
Of course, I’m always open to new ideas so if you have any on-the-road exercise strategies, now’s the time to share…