*Disclaimer: Before starting any physical activity or exercise program, please consult with your doctor.
Let’s get physical!
Exercise and physical activity seems to be second nature to some: it’s a given that they will work out anywhere and at any time, no matter where they are or what the circumstances are. For others, going on the road, especially going on a camping trip, means that they will take a break from their routine, however long the trip may be. Both can have their pros and cons, but I think some travelers don’t give much thought to how physical activity can help not only when it comes to the overall health of your body but also as it relates to driving performance, especially as we age.
I won’t go into the complete science of it, as it can get long and drawn out, and if you are like me, I normally want the BOTTOM LINE regarding why I should do something. However, if you are also like the “Science Lover” in me, here are a couple of links that will give you the complete nitty-gritty on why and a summary of the findings:
- Effects of Physical Exercise on Cognitive Functioning and Wellbeing: Biological and Psychological Benefits
- The potential role of physical activity on driving performance and safety among older adults
It’s the healthy thing to do
The bottom line, physical activity (especially aerobic exercise such as swimming, jogging, cycling, etc.) can improve your cardiovascular health, cognitive functions (think reaction times), and psychological and overall well-being. Aerobic exercise offers your body the ability to create more energy, a better heart rate, and an increase of oxygen consumption, just to name a few. It must be noted, though, that these benefits come over time and must be practiced on a routine basis. Nevertheless, this does not mean that you cannot get started while you are on the road!
As I mentioned above, please make sure you are cleared by your doctor before starting any type of exercise routine.
Let’s talk about options!
There are quite a few gyms that offer memberships that work nationwide and other gyms that let you pay a daily fee to come in and work out. Both options are great but can get expensive if you aren’t taking advantage of the benefits on a routine basis. Plus, with the current pandemic, there is a possibility that some states are still shut down or have a limit on capacity and hours. Overall a good option but will come with some challenges right now. I’ll also add, if you are at a campground and are far from an area where there is a gym, then this option is definitely not feasible.
Now, while there are PLENTY of workout videos available on different platforms — some for free, others where you have to pay a monthly fee —you may not be in an area where you have access to the internet in order to be able to stream these. Plus, you may not want to begin an entire workout routine right off the bat, especially if you are just starting out and are brand new to exercise.
Furthermore, there is the question of taking equipment with you on the road. Luckily, there are MANY portable and lightweight items that you can travel with. I’ll list some examples below with some of their uses.
- Rubber resistance bands (used in place of weights. Use for overhead presses, squats, biceps curls, chest presses, back rows, triceps pushdowns, triceps push-ups, etc.)
- Jump rope
- Mini resistance bands (great for leg workouts such as lateral squats, leg abduction, lying leg raises plus stretching)
- TRX suspension trainers (one of the best pieces of equipment that you can have on hand. You can do anything from several types of squats to single leg squats, biceps pull-ins, triceps pushes, push-ups, and even pull-ups)
- Fitness ball (great for core work)
- Push-up bars (great to use if you have problems with your wrists)
- Ab wheel
- Sandbags (used for squats, curls, to throw it on your back and do lunges, and even for tossing around)
- Portable sled (pile on some firewood or rocks that you find and you have the weight you need to pull behind you for a sprint or to pull toward you)
- Blocks for yoga
Go the all natural route
Let’s not forget the natural items you have at your fingertips, such as logs, gallons of water, cans, park benches, etc. Plus, there is the best portable workout equipment you can take, and it will not cost you a penny…You! Body-weight exercise can be one of the best workouts you can do when you don’t want to take all of the extras. Lastly, yoga is a great way to stay physically active while you are traveling.
Which workout routine is right for me?
Here is probably the next question on your mind: Okay, so I have some equipment and my body weight, but what’s a good workout to start with? Great question! Here is a sample workout that you can do anytime, anywhere, with or without equipment.
For each, you will do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. Start with the first exercise, do a set of 10, move on to the next exercise. Once you have gone down the list, start your next set until you complete 2-3 sets total (you can do the jumping jacks for time instead; do as many as you can in 30 seconds). Be sure to take a 1-minute break in between each set and remember to drink plenty of water and stretch after your workout! You can modify all of these by taking it at a slower pace. Some examples are: walking in place instead of jumping jacks; if you cannot touch the floor while squatting, you can use a bench to place your hands on (same with push-ups); if you cannot bend your knees to 90°, just go down as far as it is comfortable.
Easy exercises for repetitions
- Jumping Jacks – 30 seconds
- Squat Thrust – starts with your feet shoulder width apart, arms at side. Push hips back and squat, place hands flat on floor, step or jump back into a push-up position. Step or jump your feet toward your hands and come back to a squat\
- Walking Lunges – can hold a weight of some kind overhead. Stand with arms at side or if holding a weight, arms above your head. Brace your core and hold, step forward with one leg, lower your body until your knee is bent at about a 90° angle. Push forward with the opposite leg and continue. 10-12 on each leg.
- Wood Chop with Band – Attach one side of the band to a stable object or wrap around a tree or even the bumper or your RV, if it is solid. Stand straight while holding the other end of the band in both hands, extending your arms fully. Rotate your torso to one side as you extend the band with your movement. Return to starting position; repeat on each side for 10-12 reps.
Safe travels and healthy eating
Overall, whether it is a quick weekend getaway, being out on the road for a few weeks, or even as a full-time RVer, physical activity can bring you the energy and flexibility you need to truly embrace your experience. Safe travels and healthy eating (and living)!
Yvette Rodriguez is a US Air Force Veteran, Nutritionist and Personal Trainer who found her love for the outdoors after her first camping trip. Since then, she has found ways to combine all of these passions and brings them together on her blog Sunset Fare. She recently self-published a cookbook geared towards RVers and campers. Yvette enjoys camping and RV trips with her husband, cat and dog, always with a camera and spatula in hand!