To become an active participant in physical sports you need to have a decent level of physical fitness balanced with a careful diet to not only maintain your optimum weight but also to provide you with the best balance of nutrients specific to your particular sport. Most outdoor ‘On Rock’ adventure sports are possibly going to require an even greater level of physical fitness than other land sports so it’s even more important that you pay close attention to fitness and nutrition.
It’s important to remember that detailed fitness and nutrition programs are going to be tailored slightly differently depending on the nature of your specific outdoor activity so this article is more of a general overview, the basic premise of which would probably cover most outdoor activity sports.
Before considering an exercise regime, you need to be familiar with how a fitness program works. Firstly, it has to be specific to your chosen activity or sport. It should also get steadily more progressive and intense so that you’re always pushing yourself to the limits (but not beyond them). Once a regime starts feeling too comfortable, you need to raise its intensity a little so that you are constantly striving for optimum fitness. You should allow yourself time to fully recover between sessions so it’s important you don’t go overboard and you should keep records of your performance so that you can gauge your progression in order to make modifications to your program if needed.
Specifics of Training
It is difficult to give a generalised overview of what a suitable training regime should comprise of as that will differ between the range of outdoor adventure sports. However, most outdoor pursuits usually involve an element of endurance so your regime needs to incorporate exercise that will increase your stamina. Physical strength will be of equal importance. Most outdoor adventure pursuits require a great degree of physical strength be that to haul your body weight over a precipice in a climbing expedition on the one hand to battling with the wind when steering a paraglider on the other, for example, so building up your muscle strength is vital.
Stretching and other exercises are crucial to keep your joints supple and flexible. Many outdoor pursuits will result in your body having to contort itself into some highly unusual and difficult shapes in order to make a particular manoeuvre or to get through a particular gap, for example, slithering on your stomach through a narrow entrance in a cave, so flexibility training is a must. Finally, all the above won’t matter in the least if your heart isn’t fit. Your heart is at the core of every physical exertion you undertake. It’s like an engine and just like with a car, if the engine’s not up to much, your car will at best, only just about splutter along or, at worst, will stop completely. Therefore, the importance of cardio-vascular exercise cannot be understated and is at the core of every other exercise you do.
Good nutrition and a balanced diet are quite similar for outdoor adventure enthusiasts as they would be to the general population although outdoor enthusiasts may overcompensate in some types of foods over others if they were getting close to a major competitive event or embarking upon an endurance adventure but, in general, carbohydrate should be the main nutrient in most meals. Good examples are noodles, rice, vegetables, pasta, bread, potatoes and other foods which are rich in fibre. Carbohydrate based foodstuffs are the most important for your muscle performance which is a key component of any athlete’s make up.
Proteins are also crucial in repairing muscle breakdown and damage that can be a result of your outdoor exertions. These can be more readily found in milk and other dairy products, e.g. meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. Fat is also important but it’s crucial that you eat the correct form of fat which is the unsaturated variety. Good sources of this can be found in nuts and olives and the oil contained in both these foods, certain types of seeds and in avocados. Red meat can contain a high quota of saturated fat which isn’t good for us if eaten in large amounts.
As a general reminder, unsaturated fat (the good stuff) usually comes from plants and saturated fat (the unhealthy stuff) usually comes from animal produce.
The key is to get the balance right between all the different aspects of your diet. Try out new and different foods and see if you can identify those which make you feel healthy and seem to give you more vitality. But it’s ‘balance’ which is the key and you should try to include items from all 3 food groups in your daily diet.