Getting into shape for a safari
Planning a safari? Then listen up as it’s probably not going to be just sitting in a jeep cruising through the fields but actually involving a lot of walking and trekking to find the wildlife. It is advisable to take up an exercise plan before heading off to make sure you can cope with the demands so here are a few goals to get yourself prepared physically for a safari holiday:
- Improve your cardiovascular system by walking or cycling
- Build muscle in your lower legs
- Lower your body fat/lose weight if you are overweight
Improve your cardiovascular system
The cardiovascular system is used to deliver oxygen and increase the heart rate as needed and improving its efficiency will increase your stamina. Trekking across different terrains will be tough on the heart and lungs so training these will help you to keep up with the group comfortably without the need to stop or slow down so you can concentrate on the wildlife. Six weeks prior to your holiday you should be doing some sort of cardio/aerobic exercise two to three times a week.
You do not need an expensive gym membership to improve your stamina, simply undertaking regular walking for 20 minutes interspersed with a little jogging will see a great increase in your cardio stamina. Secondly, if you own a mountain or road bike but do not want to go cycling in the cold and rain invest in an indoor bike trainer (my favorite way to do cardiovascular exercise, check out some good ones here) which allows you to connect any normal bike to and cycle while watching tv instead of sitting on the sofa. I am using the Magnet Steel Indoor Exercise Trainer myself. Try to get on the trainer for at least 30 minutes twice a week.
Build Muscle in the Lower Legs
Again many people do not exercise because of costly gym memberships but there is so many exercises you can do at home with no cost. When on safari you will be required to trek, possibly navigating over tough terrain maybe even uphill so having strong muscles in your legs will help you maneuver safely and make climbing in and out of the jeep easier!
To improve your lower leg muscles try this easy body weight circuit after you complete your cardio exercise as advised above. Aim to complete this at least twice a week:
- Body weight squats
- Alternate Leg Lunges
- Sit Ups
- Single Leg Lunges
- Un-weighted Deadlift
Complete each exercise for 30 seconds and work through one to six then rest for 3 minutes and repeat. In weeks three to four increase the time at each station to one minute and weeks five and six increase to two minutes. If it becomes too easy you can invest in some dumbbells to increase the intensity or use household objects such as a bag of flour or sugar.
Lower your body fat
When trekking around on safari you do not want to be carrying excess weight as well as a heavy bag so while undertaking the exercises suggested above you will start to burn calories and lower your weight. However exercise alone will not be able to keep the weight off and you will need to make sure that your diet works with not against your fitness plan. Make sure to lower your fat intake and avoid saturated fats that you find in many unhealthy foods such as take outs. Try to avoid eating late at night as the body is unable to digest heavy starchy foods during sleep and often gets stored as fat.
While undertaking a better diet and fitness plan why not try to make some lifestyle changes at the same time to maintain this new healthy body. Simple changes can help to keep your weight down and burning calories. For example if you use public transport maybe get off a stop early if possible and walk the remaining distance, or using the stairs instead of a lift or escalator. You do not need to walk the entire way up but maybe jump out of the lift a floor below and gradually work your way down.
Instead of simply sitting and watching TV of an evening join a fitness class or play squash or badminton with a friend. This will improve your social life and give you a boost in confidence instead of snacking in front of the box. Feel free to enjoy a drink after a session without feeling guilty.
If you commit 6 weeks prior to your holiday of a lifetime you will be able to enjoy it much more and concentrate on the wildlife and seeing some of the most spectacular sights on earth.