I have a confession to make. I am somewhat of a control freak, a “Type-A,” a perfectionist. This condition has worsened over
the years. Most recently it has transformed into the angry beast of anxiety accompanied by the dark monster of depression.
This terrible duo has severely affected my life this past year, to the point that I’ve had to be on medical leave from my career as an elementary school teacher.
The good news is that many medical studies have declared that daily physical activity as well as contact with nature are vital to the improved health and eventual recovery from depression and anxiety.
I latched onto these declarations and made an important pact with myself to seek some form of physical activity every single day and especially to get out on a hike in the forest at least once a week. It would help me heal, it would keep me healthy, and it would respond to my Type-A tendencies and give me some semblance of control over the physical side of my hike preparations.
Through the Spring there are lots of articles in Backpacker Magazine or Outside about “5 Best Exercises for Backpacking” or “10 Leg Strengtheners for Carrying Your Heavy Pack.” Quite honestly, I don’t believe that there are a whole lot of exercises that won’t help you prepare for backpacking. Work on building your endurance, strengthening your legs, your core, your back, and your shoulders. That’s pretty well your whole body!
Some days all I manage is a walk around town to do my errands. But at least I’m walking.
Some days I manage to complete a 30-minute yoga video from YouTube. But at least I’m stretching.
Some days I manage to get in the car and drive over to the pool for 40 minutes of laps. But at least I’m using my whole body.
Some days I manage to get right out to the gym for a 1-hour weight-training circuit. But at least I feel strong.
What matters the most, is that every day I manage to fit in some form of physical activity, as a way to strengthen my body and my brain. If you’re training for a 200-mile hike or a 20-mile hike, the least you can do is get out and be active for a little while each and every day.