TOPS Helps Plan a Healthy Camping Trip

"camping"June is Great Outdoors Month, an opportunity to enjoy and explore nature. What better way to appreciate the outdoors than camping or taking a trip to the cabin? A camping excursion is a time to relax and have fun, but it’s also important to maintain healthy eating habits and take advantage of the activities you can do outside. TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, offers tips for a healthy, safe camping trip.

Stay Active

It’s nice to unwind by lying on the pier to soak up the sun or taking a boat ride around the lake, but it’s also fun to get moving during the trip.

• Hiking – Campers can enjoy the scenery and burn calories at the same time. Hiking is an effective workout and gives you a chance to slow down and enjoy nature.

• Biking – Hit the open road on a bicycle. It’s a great way to burn calories, tone muscles, and fit in a cardio workout. Remember to wear a helmet!

• Swimming – Swimming is a full-body workout. It’s easy on your joints, raises your heart rate, and is refreshing on a hot day.

• Canoeing or kayaking – This is a great opportunity to get on the water and use your upper body strength. Not only does it work muscles and raise a person’s heart rate, but it can also be a peaceful activity.

• Volleyball – If you’re near a beach or have enough space at the campsite, get a group of people together for a few rounds of volleyball.

• Geocaching – This is an outdoor scavenger hunt that uses a GPS and coordinates to locate a cache that others have hidden, including trinkets, amazing views, and other objects. It’s a chance to connect with nature and is fun for the whole family.

Eat Well

Before a camping trip, create a menu for the week. Planning meals ahead of time allows you to stay on track with healthy eating habits.

• Breakfast – Oatmeal and fresh fruit are great options for a sensible breakfast. Try making scrambled eggs over the campfire with a cast iron skillet.

• Snacks – Pack celery, carrots, apples, oranges, grapes, or nuts as snacks. Choose foods that are easy to carry on a hike or store at your campsite.

• Protein – Prepare lean meats for lunch and dinner – chicken, fish, turkey dogs, beef labeled “choice” or “select,” or buffalo burgers.

• Fresh produce – Watermelon, berries, and apples are great summer selections. Prepare fresh vegetables – corn, peppers, onions, etc. – over the campfire by placing them in a foil packet and nestling it into the coals (this can also be done with potatoes, chicken, or fish).

Be Safe

Sun Matters

Avoid the damaging effects of the sun and the issues caused by excessive heat, such as heat stroke. Lather up with a thick layer, about a shot glass full, of broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. The higher the SPF, the more sun protection you will receive. Generously apply the sunscreen and reapply often.

Dress to protect. A wide-brimmed hat is ideal to protect areas that are exposed to the sun, including your ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes. Look for a label that indicates that they block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. Wear lightweight cotton clothing to cover up your body without overheating.

Seek shade or avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Find a shade tree or relax under an awning.

First Aid and Emergency Supplies

• Bandages

• Tweezers

• Ibuprofen and other medications like allergy relief or antacid

• Flashlight

• Antibiotic cream

• Scissors

• Batteries

• Compass or GPS

• Oral antihistamine

• Tissues

• Ice pack

• Insect repellent containing DEET


Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. Signs of dehydration include dizziness, confusion, headaches, loss of energy, dry skin, rapid pulse, sticky saliva, and dark urine. Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages and sugary soft drinks to help avoid dehydration.

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 64 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.SM” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information. TOPS has about 170,000 members – male and female, age seven and older – in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.


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