We know that if you don’t already do it, adopting a daily exercise routine is not easy and that it can be challenging to find the motivation. But every minute you put in prior to your course will pay off once you get out there. So, if you do not already engage in 30 minutes of intense aerobic exercise three times a week, we recommend putting in the time to train prior to your course.
Build Aerobic Fitness
Before starting any fitness program it is always a good idea to consult your physician. The most important kind of training is aerobic fitness (running, bicycling, skating, swimming, etc.), which stimulates heart and lung activity for at least 30 continuous minutes. The aim of your training program will be to increase your body’s capacity to maximize oxygen intake. This will increase the capability of your heart and circulatory system to supply blood and oxygen to all organs and tissues. If you are currently working out three days a week, consider building to five or six days or by increasing your time 10% a week. Stretch and workout with light weights to maintain flexibility and build strength.
Running is a great option for aerobic fitness. You should consider specific training techniques to prepare for your course such as climbing stairs with weight on your back or using a rowing machine. Please contact your Course Advisor to learn about specific training needed for your course activities.
The most important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy doing. While exercising three times a week is the minimum, five or six times a week is optimum.
Adopt Healthy Habits
A great way to prepare physically is to adopt healthy eating habits and focus on being well-hydrated.
- Arrive at your course start well rested
- Reduce consumption of fatty foods, excessive alcohol and caffeine, as these substances require a lot of water and oxygen to metabolize
- Eat plenty of unrefined carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains)
- Drink water regularly and whenever you’re thirsty, instead of juice or soda
- If you use tobacco, stop
Don’t overdo it. Many people (especially those who delay the start of an exercise routine) try to do too much too quickly, the result of believing that the harder the body is pushed the faster it will improve. In fact, the opposite is true. The more moderately you increase your training, as long as you are increasing your heart rate adequately, the more quickly you will improve. Going too fast too soon can result in discomfort and discouragement, and even injury.
We can’t really offer you a training regimen to mentally prepare for Outward Bound. But we can suggest a few things to think about and be prepared for:
Teamwork - Be ready to be part of a team. Think about other team experiences you have had in the past whether they are sports teams, school plays or business meetings. Come up with a few observations about what has made your teams successful in the past and plan on being a positive contributor during your course.
Living with Less – Look around your house and the “real” world and think about what you have and what you need. Things you currently take for granted like hot running water, upholstered furniture and sidewalks will not be part of your experience. When you get the rhythm of wilderness living, you will see that despite the complexity of your everyday life, life on the trail and life at home are both ultimately about food, clothing, shelter and each other. We will also ask you to leave behind non-essentials like deodorant, makeup, electronic devices and books.
Being Away from Home – Whether it is the first or the 27th time you have been away from home, you might not ever have been this out of touch. The feeling of being alone and away from family might not happen immediately, but in a lot of cases it will occur while on course. Please use your instructors and teammates as resources as they are there for help. If you think you might feel homesick, let us know. We can help you come up with some ideas to address it.
Compassion – Compassion is one of Outward Bound’s core values. Be prepared to offer it and expect it from your teammates. You will travel with and rely on a group of strangers each of whom have different reasons for attending Outward Bound and will come with varying levels of physical and mental strength. You may find that you will need to make compromises in your own expectations to support other members of your team. It is important to remember that in such a small group setting, your attitude and actions affect everyone.
Group Discussion – Outward Bound delivers learning, in large part, by discussing course experiences. By considering the experience through group discussion before and after, you are more able to hold onto the value of each experience and take it home with you. Be prepared to share your perspective and gain insight from others on your expedition.