Van Life Fitness: 8 Tips For Healthy Living In A Camper Van

Trying to keep fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle while living in a camper van can be challenging. Keeping a strict workout routine is difficult since we travel from one new environment to another.

After all, you may not always be conveniently parked next to a gym with weight training and cardio facilities. And going for a jog after a long day in a National Park doesn’t seem reasonable.

Therefore, while living the van life, you’ll need to develop a more effective solution to stay fit and healthy.

So, in this post, we share eight tips to help keep our bodies fit and healthy during van life. This includes advice for both physical activity and consumption.

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1. “Walking Is Man’s Best Medicine.”

Woman standing in front of a lake in Banff National Park
Post-hike picture in Banff National Park!

Being able to drive wherever you want with your tiny home is liberating. However, you will most likely be sitting all day and driving more than your body wishes to.

Walking is the most straightforward exercise you can do every day, and it gives you countless benefits to maintain a healthy body.

Choose Walking Over Driving

If it is less than 30 minutes by walking distance, try to go to the destination on foot. If you park in Walmart for a night, maybe walk every aisle inside, enjoy window shopping, or take the stairs instead of the elevators.

You don’t even have to go on an actual hike to gain walking steps; all you have to do is remind yourself to walk more than drive for 5 minutes.

Aim for 10,000 Steps a Day

Using the step count app is a great way to motivate yourself. You will be surprised how many steps you have by the end of the day, or you will be shocked by how few. Reward yourself with your favorite meal after you complete 10,000 steps a day!

2. Cook More Than Eating Out

It sounds like a boring, simple solution, but unless you eat instant ramen daily (I wouldn’t recommend it), home-cooked food is always better for your health than eating out.

Pack Your Lunch and Snack for a Driving Day

Oftentimes, highway restaurants have very limited healthy meal options. If you have a long driving day, pack your own healthy lunch and snack. Not only is it better for your health, but it also saves you money and time.

Making a salad inside a camper van
Making a salad inside our van

Check Out Simple One Dish Recipes

Cooking takes a lot of time, especially in a camper van, due to the lack of counter space and resources like water or certain cooking appliances you used to own at home.

Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does there have to be multiple dishes on the table. Many recipes online allow you to cook a fast and easy one-plate healthy meal, which is easily manageable in a simple kitchen setting in a camper van.

Learn More About Useful Kitchen Set Up: Camper Van Kitchen Essentials: For The Best Van Life Meals

Cook Your Own Pre-Made Food

When you are not on the move and camping in the same place for a few days, it is always a smart idea to prepare your own pre-made food and cook a large amount of food to eat for several days.

In this way, you don’t have to prepare the food from scratch every day, even when you don’t feel like cooking, and avoid going for pizza late at night.

3. Avoid Overeating

You are more likely to burn more physical and mental energy in exploring new places, so undeniably, you get more hungry than when you go back and forth between your office and home.

The biggest mistake people make is to wait for mealtime even though you are already hungry. It causes fast and overeating in actual meals, which is not ideal for your digestion.

Snack Often

Always keep stocks of healthy snacks ( granola bars, fruits or mixed nuts, etc.), and snack often, and don’t wait till you are starving. Keeping your own healthy snack is also an excellent idea for a long driving day since there are limited healthy meal options on the roadside or highway.

Breakfast plate with diced fruit
Share a plate

Sharing Dishes

People often order a dish just for themselves; the portion is often too much for one person. Overeating until your stomach hurts is not a good sign.

What you can do instead is to share the dishes. For example, you can order the main dish, and your partner can order a salad or appetizer instead of ordering two main dishes, or you can order multiple appetizers instead of ordering main dishes.

Having tapas-style meals allows you to taste multiple dishes in small quantities, which is much more enjoyable and accessible for your stomach.

Eat Moderately

In Japan, we have a saying for eating healthy is “keeping 80% full”, which means you should not eat until you feel disgustingly full. Don’t be afraid to pack the leftovers to go; eating leftover pizza the next day is also a joyful experience.

4. Drink More Water

Did you know we should all drink roughly 12-16 cups (3-4 liters) of water daily?

It’s easier said than done, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated. It’s better for your body, improves your skin, and keeps you positive.

Set an Alarm or Reminder

It’s hard to remind yourself and your partner to “drink more water.” Setting an alarm or reminder every hour to drink a glass is a much easier solution.

Don’t Depend on Buying Water

In van life, buying plastic water is not the smartest solution to get potable water. Having a water filter and your own bottle is much more cost-effective and produces less waste.

Travel Berkey water filter is compact and packs into a small, portable pouch, which is excellent for van life or backpacking trips. It removes more than 99% of bacteria and viruses that you can filter from almost any water resource.

Go Berkey Water Filter Kit

The ideal travel companion. Filters out over 99.8% of contaminants, heavy metals, pesticides, and viruses. Packs up quickly when not needed and takes up minimal storage.

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Also Read: 12 Van Life Essentials You Need

5. Give Yourself a Challenge

You can give yourself a simple workout challenge; push-ups and squats 100 times a day, for example, are very easy and effective, and you don’t need any equipment or lie down on the dirty floor.

Woman practicing yoga next to a camper van
Yoga by the seaside

You can set an alarm every 2 hours to do 10 or 20 times, depending on your strength level, as long as the total is 100 times daily. You will be surprised how much stronger you become after a month if you keep this simple daily habit.

6. Get Good Quality Sleep

Man sleeping on a pillow with a cat
Who doesn’t love a good mattress to sleep on?

Do A Bed Time Stretch

High-quality sleep is one of the most critical factors for a healthy body and mind; stretching before bed is a great way to relax your body and give you better sleep.

“Search” bedtime stretch,” and you will find numerous content on YouTube.”Search “bedtime stretch,” and you will find numerous content on YouTube.

Refrain From Caffeine 4 Hours Before Sleep

Caffeine is good for your body but not so great for your sleep. Try to avoid drinking caffeinated coffee or tea 4-5 hours before going to bed. Also, don’t forget to keep a glass of water by your side when you have one since caffeine makes you dehydrate more.

Avoid Scrolling on Smartphones on the Bed

Although it is hard to stop the addiction of looking at your smartphone today in this world, it’s best to avoid scrolling on social media before you sleep. Exposure to blue light prevents you from falling asleep smoothly and also prevents you from staying asleep during the night.

7. Visit Community Center & Recreational Facilities

If you’re weary about paying for a monthly gym membership, you can always look out for community centers and recreational facilities when you arrive in a city or town.

It’s a fun way to spend one day in the city; the benefit of these rec centers is that they also provide a much more comprehensive range of activities, such as swimming, basketball, badminton, and even pickleball! And being able to access a hot shower after sweating is a bonus.

8. Got a Fluffy Friend? Bring Them With You!

If you have a dog, or even a cat, at home, bring them along for your van life journey! A camper van is the best way to travel with a pet.

They make you stay physically active by walking and playing with you, make you smile in the sun or rain, and keep you mentally happy and stable.

Bonus: Pets are fantastic conversation starters who help you befriend campsite neighbors.

Cat sitting on shoulder on Eric, while walking outdoors
Maya on her throne, clearly

Our Experience: Ever since we adopted Maya, our beloved van cat, we’ve noticed a sharp uptick in our time outdoors. This includes walking/hiking and simply standing outdoors soaking in the sun’s rays.

If you want to learn more about how to van life with pets, read:  Van Life With A Cat – Guide To Traveling Full Time With Pets

Conclusion

One of the beauties of van life is that you can access various indoor and outdoor activities to help keep your body fit and healthy. Going to a gym isn’t your only option.

Whichever activity(ies) you choose to keep fit, it’s essential to keep at it for at least a short while so that your body can develop a routine and get accustomed to it.

The best way to stay fit and healthy while traveling in a camper van (or RV) is to enjoy the activity itself.

If you have any questions about keeping fit in a camper van, please let us know in the comments section below.

Happy traveling!

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