Flowers are blooming and temperatures are rising—spring is here, and that means summer is soon to follow! Unbelievably, the first Adventure Treks trips of 2023 begin in less than two months. As you check items off of the packing list and get in touch with friends from previous summers, make sure you also take time to prepare your body for your trip.
Remember, you do not have to be the “star athlete” at school to have fun and be successful at AT! Everyone will be challenged by some part of the trip, no matter how many sports they play. Preparing your body for an AT trip is not about “getting in shape,” readying your “summer body,” or restricting yourself in order to look or feel a certain way. It is about being active in whatever ways feel good to you so that you arrive on your trip feeling strong and full of energy and confidence!
Here are some options for adding activity to your spring:
Students sometimes worry that backpacking may be too strenuous for them. The easiest way to prepare your body for backpacking is to walk! Take a walk around your neighborhood before or after school, invite your friends and family for a hike at a local park or forest on the weekend, or even go to the gym and spend time walking on a treadmill or track. This is also the best way to break in your hiking boots if they are new, or to re-mold them to fit your feet best if you haven’t worn them since last summer.
If you’re looking for a more strenuous option, walk on hilly terrain, find stairs to climb, wear a backpack full of supplies while hiking/walking, or jog a few times a week instead!
Play sports—competitively or just for fun
Whether you compete for a school team or prefer a pickup game with friends, playing sports is one of the easiest and most fun ways to feel fit and strong. Soccer, tennis, lacrosse, swimming, basketball, and more are all great options. If you come from a yard game family, turn your spike ball, cornhole, or frisbee into a tournament and play all day! Roller skating or skateboarding, dancing, volleyball, jump rope, baseball, karate–whatever is fun for you, do it often, especially leading up to your AT trip.
Yoga, stretching, and weight training
Make sure to stretch your muscles before and after any activity in order to feel your best! Yoga is also a fantastic strengthening activity of its own. There are many free videos online to try out different types and levels of yoga, so it is easy to add a stretching session into your day. Many places have local yoga studios where you can learn even more from a teacher.
Many of our students also enjoy hitting the gym and lifting weights. Resistance training plus cardio activity will definitely help you feel strong!
Explore outdoor activities
Depending on where you live, you may have a variety of outdoor activities available to try. If you have a bike, take a ride around your neighborhood or take a trip to a local bike park or mountain bike trail to try riding up and down hills. (Remember your helmet!) If you live near water, try kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddleboarding (it’s harder than it looks!) to put your upper body muscles to use. Rock climbing is a fun and challenging way to explore the outdoors, and can also be a great way to spend a rainy day if there is a climbing gym near you.
Preparing your body for your trip isn’t just about being active. Drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and fueling yourself adequately for the activities you’re doing are critically important to making sure you have the best summer possible. As the weather warms up, your body will be working harder to stay cool, so the amount of food and water you need to feel good might change. Eating a balanced diet will help give you the energy you need to have fun being active, and getting the recommended 8–10 hours of sleep per night will keep you from feeling worn out at the end of the school year. Remember to protect yourself from the sun when you’re outside, and treat any injuries carefully so that they heal as quickly as possible, just like you would on an AT trip!
Most important, preparing your body for your AT trip should be FUN! Try a new activity or challenge yourself to learn a new skill. Invite friends or siblings to participate. Offer your services as a lawn mower or dog walker to make a little money while doing something active. Have a dance party! Find a playground and do laps on the monkey bars. Whatever you choose, have a good time and remember to break in your hiking boots!