Okay, so we all know hiking is a great form of exercise, but if you never even leave the living room, how can it help contribute to good health? With this activity, it can be a great way offer an overview on what contributes to our daily caloric intake – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. We used actual supplies, but depending on supplies, room, mess, and physical involvement desired, feel free to cut photos out of a magazine or draw/write items on index cards.
First, we brainstormed: What do we need to go for a good day’s hike? Our list included items like:
- Bug spray
- Walking stick
- Trash bag
- Binoculars/exploration items
- First aid kit
- Knife/folding saw
Next, I briefly discussed what makes up our calories (while I got baffled looks as they wondered what on earth this had to do with anything, I might add…). Essentially (as no certified health expert here), I went over that carbohydrates are our instant fuel. They power us in the short term, but excess gets turned into fat. Protein meanwhile is that which helps us develop and grow and sustains us over a longer period – but excess again can be stored as fat. Fat itself of course is either used or stored as our reserve against lean times, should they arise.
Using this, we turned our attention back to our pile of supplies, at which point I asked them which would represent carbohydrates – in other words, those things that get us started out the door. (For convenience, the above list goes in order.) We “applied” sunscreen and bug spray, piled on our clothes (use a couple layers) and shoes, got our map and stick, and were ready to go. However, in order to last longer and have a more well-rounded adventure, we needed our proteins: stuff like our water and food, exploration gear, backpack and bag for any trash. Lastly, we needed our fat reserve, that just-in-case stuff: first aid kit, whistle, flashlight, and such, should something happened and we might get hurt or lost.
Once we had that all sorted out, we considered what got used versus stored. Carbs like bug spray and sunscreen were used instantly; some clothing got peeled off and stored, and the map proved unnecessary once we turned around. Likewise our water and food supply would get used up, whereas our binoculars eventually just got jammed in the pack. We hoped to never need our emergency fat stockpile, so the goal was to keep it minimal for easier travel, but if the hike ran late enough, we might just find the extra layers coming back into use.
This was really a fun project, and I think it helped us set the stage for more health and nutrition in the coming days (and beyond). It was interactive enough that we all kept focused and engaged. Obviously there is tons of room for expansion – like a real hike! – so as always, feel free to make it your own.