Staying fit and healthy while living on the road is a constant struggle. Since we are always finding ourselves in new places, we are excited to explore and try new things, and frequently eat out to get a feel for the area and embrace regional cuisines. The balancing act of wanting to eat all of the foods, while minimizing the repercussions, is a constant battle. When we first started our nomadic existence, we toyed with the idea of joining a gym and researched different memberships. Ultimately, we felt that if we did join a gym, we would feel obligated to route them into our journey, whether or not they made sense for our location. Having one more factor competing for attention when it came to route planning was enough of a deterrent to force us to look for alternative ways to be active and stay fit on the road. While some campgrounds do have small fitness rooms with equipment, the vast majority don’t. We applaud those campgrounds that provide exercise rooms and specifically choose to stay with them over others when this is an option. We are still struggling to find the right balance, but have found five practices that fit our lifestyle and work for us as camper nomads.
1. Walk more
An obvious choice, but a sound one. Walking around is not only a great way to get a feel for new areas, but burns calories. We don’t currently have a tow vehicle and we prefer not to try to navigate densely populated areas with the camper when we can avoid it, so we frequently walk further distances than we normally did when we had access to a car.
Before we hit the road, we installed a bike rack onto the front of our truck so that we could bring our mountain bikes. Using bikes to commute around is a faster option than walking, and another great way to stay active. Because they are exposed to the elements all of the time, they do require more frequent maintenance than garage kept bikes, but the benefits of having bikes far outweigh the minimal maintenance effort.
3. There’s an app for that
There are loads of free apps out there to help with fitness and nutrition. We have downloaded free running & biking apps (Runtastic and Strava) to track our progress as well as a nutrition calculator app to keep a daily food log. The act of manually entering meals and seeing the calorie totals helps to keep me more accountable and mindful of what I am eating. I use the free “MyPlate” app because I have found it to be easy to work with. I also like that it syncs with my other fitness apps to pull in data from daily workouts to accurately track calories burned as well as consumed.
By far, the single biggest lifestyle change we made in our attempt to keep fit was to take-up running. Running is an activity I have always thought I hated, and wanted absolutely no part of, and yet, here we are. Practically, fiscally, and logistically, running just made the most sense. No memberships, no special equipment other than basic attire, easy to do anywhere, and effective. In 35 minutes, I can cover more ground and burn more calories than many other aerobic activities and it is a minimal time commitment. To ease our bodies into shape for running, we initially used a coaching app to work our way, and our endurance, up to the point where we could free run for long distances. Running is a great way to explore new neighborhoods and get a feel for the surroundings (if there aren’t any safe roadways to run along, then looping through the campground works as well). It also gives us some “me time”, a valuable commodity when camper dwelling in close quarters. While I can’t say that I love running now, I hate it a lot less and like having a reason to force myself to get out & about, and do I like the way I feel when I am done.
5. Camper aerobics
When the weather is crap, and I am starting to feel pent-up, there is just enough floor space in our truck camper for running in place. As silly as it may sound, and as funny as it may be to watch our camper rhythmically sway for 45 minutes (we always get a giggle out of imagining what our neighbors must think) running in place inside the camper is an effective aerobic activity in a pinch. I ditch the shoes and run on a padded mat to soften the impact noise and sway, pop in my earphones, and catch-up on my favorite streaming shows while getting in a workout. Pro tip for truck campers- It is better if the jacks are down, as this prevents the camper from rocking!