Fitness in the Wilderness

Camping is a great chance to get plenty of fresh air and time out in the sun. This is also a great chance to get in a little exercise and keep yourself fit while spending some time out in the wilderness. Better to be breathing heavily out in sweet clean air than breathing heavily in a polluted city somewhere.

So while you are out enjoying the great outdoors, don’t let your body get soft. If your body is soft, then this is an excellent time to get back in shape. I’ve compiled a collection of exercises that you can do anywhere. No fancy gym equipment needed. Let’s get started!

Exercise while camping

Run, Walk, or Hike

I just finished a great couple of days out in a cabin in a state park near me. Although I didn’t run, I did hike. Most parks are filled with a variety of trails. You can get your blood pumping, and if you are lucky, there is a chance you can see some wildlife while you are at it.

All you need is a good set of hiking boots or sneakers if you are going to run. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings in bear country. I always bring a stoat hiking stick with me. It can help deal with snakes and other types of troublesome wildlife.

tree climbing

Climb a Tree

A good tree can be helpful for all kinds of exercise. You can climb it or use the branch for pull-ups. If you get tired, use can use your legs and feet to assist you. Just try not to climb to high. As with all outdoor exercises, always remember safety first. If you have a thick rope, you can wrap it around the trunk and lean forward from the trunk with your arms extended overhead to exercise your triceps.

The burpee


Burpees are a great exercise to get your heart racing. You work your legs, arms, and core. Sometimes known as the squat thrust, it is a four-count exercise. You can also add in a push-up for more strength training when you get to count 2.

  1. Start from a standing position
  2. Move into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
  3. Kick your feet back into a plank position while keeping your arms extended. (count 2)
  4. Immediately return your feet into a squat position. (count 3)
  5. Stand up from the squat position (count 4)
mountain climbers while camping

Mountain Climbers

This exercise, like the burpee, is a great all-around exercise. You start in the same position as you would for a push-up — shoulders over hands and weight on just your toes. With your core engaged, bring your right knee forward under your chest, with the toes just off the ground. Return to the basic push-up position. Switch legs, bringing the left knee forward.


Sit-ups or Crunches

A sit-up is a great way to activate your abdominal muscles. Start out lying with your back on the floor, with your arms across your chest or hands behind the head, and the knees bent in an attempt to reduce stress on the back. Raise your upper body in a controlled motion touching your elbows to the outside of your knees. You can alternate touching one elbow to the opposite knee each time you come up for a little extra muscle activation.

Some people have problems with sit-ups and opt for the crunch. Start as you would for a sit-up but curl your shoulders off the ground as you rest your head on your fingers behind your head. It is important not to pull on your head as it can stress your neck muscles. Keep your elbows even with your ears, as in the picture above. I once heard an excellent way to visualize doing a crunch correctly from the martial arts expert and creator of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee. He said to imagine that your body was like a piece of parchment and to roll your shoulders into the center of the page, much like a piece of paper does when stretched out after being rolled up.


Push-ups while camping


Push-ups are great because no matter where you are or what your fitness level, you can do them in some variation or other. I recently started working a job where I am sitting 8 hours a day with minimal movement involved. I used to rack out 90 push-ups like it was nothing but 20 years, and a desk job later made it hard to do the standard way.

I started slowly doing push-ups on an incline, which makes them easier. Put your hands and head above your feet. If that’s too easy and you need a challenge, try to raise your feet above your hands and head. You can use a log, picnic table, whatever gives you a stable platform for doing this exercise. You can also do the standard push-up on your knees to make it easier.


push-ups with family while camping

Get Outside and Sweat

There are so many other exercises that I didn’t have time to include here. Jumping jacks, dips, and plain old squats are just a few. What’s your favorite activity to do outdoors? Leave a note in the comments below and share your ideas for staying fit while camping. The Fox family hopes that you will stay safe and stay fit on your next great outdoor adventure!


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