Camping in the great outdoors offers lots of benefits: fresh air that’s good for the lungs, vitamin D from sunshine and the reconnection with nature. So why shouldn’t we build on these health benefits and create some better habits, too? Here’s how to stay healthy while camping, from packing your rolling cooler full of nutritious meals and planning a few activities at the campground to getting good sleep.
Plan a Few Activities to Stay Active
For some, camping is a leisurely experience, lounging around in a hammock or reading a book by the light of a campfire. However, if you want to stay healthy while camping, it’s good to move your body and get in some physical exercise. Before you even choose where to camp, make sure the campground offers trails and other amenities like kayak or canoe rentals. Camping with the family? Inquire about fun activities to keep kids engaged, too.
Whatever you decide to do, be sure to pack a personal cooler with some healthy lunches for the day. If you plan to take a night hike to go stargazing in a nearby field, make sure to pack a flashlight so you can make it back safely, too. Luckily, there’s plenty of both thrilling and peaceful activities you can partake in with camping, from skiing on the lake to doing yoga on the dock. Ultimately, just make sure to move your muscles and stay active.
Make a Meal Plan
Source: Sorn340 Studio Images/Shutterstock.com
While it’s super-easy to throw a few hot dogs on the fire, it doesn’t make a nutritious meal. Basically, it’s the fast food of camp meals. So instead of eating campsite fast food, make a plan ahead of time and stick to it! Sure, it’s okay to indulge one night or two during a week-long camping vacation, but it’s healthier when you create a meal plan full of nutritious breakfasts, lunches and dinners. This way, you can avoid those quick fast-food-like meal choices.
Making a meal plan is relatively simple. All you need to do is create a spreadsheet of each daily meal, along with the necessary ingredients. Having a spreadsheet to reference will help remind you what you have packed in the cooler and food box so you can quickly grab what you need and strike up the barbecue or Dutch oven.
In addition, when it comes to cooking meals at the site, you want to keep it simple. Plan a menu that consists of ingredients and items that are easy to pack. Choose mostly dry ingredients, packing items like eggs and milk that need to stay cool in a cooler.
Prepare Meals in Advance
Not only can you plan meals in advance, but you can prepare them early, too! If you plan to stay healthy while camping, preparing meals in advance can save you time and offer ready-to-go options when you need to cook for the family after a long and tiring day of activities.
After a tiring day of paddling on the campground lake or hiking all the trails on the map, the last thing you want to do is come back to the site and scarf down junk food. Instead, when you have something prepared and a meal plan, you can return to camp knowing your meal is ready and waiting. Maybe you have to mix it together and fry up a few things, but it’s essentially there.
Think Healthy Snacks
It’s easy to grab a bag of chips or a cookie when you want a snack after a hike. But as the expression goes: Out of sight, out of mind. Instead of allowing yourself to indulge in these unhealthy treats and snacks, swap them out for something better. Consider fruits and vegetables, nuts, dried fruit and other healthier snacks to help you get by between meals.
Of course, this isn’t to say you can’t enjoy a dessert after dinner. But when you limit your sweets and fatty foods and reach for healthier alternatives, it can actually give you more energy.
Remember to Hydrate
According to the Mayo Clinic, women need roughly 11.5 cups of fluids per day while men need approximately 15.5 cups per day. And this is just on an average 24-hour period. When you are camping, your body may require even more. Outside without air conditioning and under the heat of a warm summer day, your body can perspire even more. Plus, if you take part in a few activities to keep your body loose and active, you can really break a sweat. So, staying hydrated while you are camping is crucial.
Make sure you know the signs of dehydration, too. Besides being thirsty, your body can have symptoms such as decreased urination, dry skin, constipation, dizziness and more. You may also get a headache or even experience lightheadedness. Sometimes, we might even mistake signs of dehydration for hunger. So if you ever feel hungry, try drinking water first.
Wherever you go camping, make sure to pack enough water for each person. If it seems like a lot, you can always use the potable water source at the campsite. If you are doing a backcountry hike where a campground faucet is nowhere to be found, consider a water purification system. These devices can lighten a load and get rid of all sorts of bacteria.
In addition, make sure to get some electrolyte powder to put in your water bottles. You can find several brands that come in packets you can sprinkle in the bottle and shake up to dissolve. You can even find them as flavors, offering you a tasty treat that makes an excellent alternative to sodas.
Get Good Sleep
Did you know that camping can reset your circadian rhythm? If you have trouble getting good shuteye, camping might be the solution you need. Simply hit the sack when the sun goes down and wake up naturally with the sunrise, too. Plus, getting good sleep just makes you feel refreshed for more activities the next day.