Camping has long been associated with health benefits such as lowering stress and improving emotional and physical wellbeing. It gives you the opportunity to swap bustling city life for the relaxing pace of nature, to sleep under the stars for a weekend, or perhaps a little longer.
Lucky for us, Canada is home to a plethora of campsites with fantastic facilities. This means you don’t have to go far from home to immerse yourself in the great outdoors and spend quality time connecting with friends and family.
If you or someone close to you has recently been diagnosed with heart failure, you may be wondering whether or not you can go on camping trips. The answer? You certainly can. Living with heart failure doesn’t have to hold you back from enjoying the things you love. You can still live a full life when you effectively manage your illness and recognize your symptoms.
There’s still plenty of time to reconnect with nature and embark on a camping trip this summer. Before you go, we’ve rounded up six tips to help you get organized and ready to enjoy a refreshing break outdoors.
Invest in quality camping equipment
Comfort must be a priority during your camping trip, and investing in quality equipment can help ensure this. Visit stores such as Mountain Equipment Co-op or Canadian Tire and ask staff for product suggestions that best suit your needs. Start with a spacious, weatherproof tent, an air mattress, an adequate temperature sleeping bag, a camping stove, and go from there. Organizing the equipment you’ll need ahead of time gives you less to worry about during your trip.
Choose a campsite with plenty of shade
Extreme heat can put your health at risk, regardless of your age. It can cause undue stress on the heart as your heart may not be able to work harder to regulate a cool body temperature. For this reason, it’s best to choose a campground and campsite with substantial tree coverage. This means your sleeping and cooking areas will be shaded from the sun, keeping you cooler for longer.
Pack medication coverage
Before you depart for your camping trip, it’s important to make sure that you have enough medication with you. Carrying these items in a backpack will allow you to easily access them when you need them. If it helps, you can set reminders on your phone to alert you of the time to take your medication. It’s helpful to have a letter from your doctor in your bag at all times which outlines your prescribed medication and the dosage.
Be prepared for weather changes
Before your trip, be sure to check the weather forecast so you have a general idea of what to expect. During summer, think of packing light, comfortable clothing for during the day and warmer items for nighttime. The weather can change in an instant in the great outdoors so it’s key to have all grounds covered. Bringing a sun hat will give you extra protection from the heat during daytime activities and a toque will provide warmth at night. Sunscreen and insect repellant should also be at the top of your packing checklist.
Focus on healthy eating
It’s not always easy to maintain your regular diet when you’re away from home, but a little planning ahead of time makes a big difference. Perhaps you’ll want to prepare snacks and staples such as rice or pasta before you leave and cook everything else on the campsite — the easiest way to make a nutritious meal is the best option. Ensure you’re getting enough fluids and stop by a store near the campsite to buy water if there is no drinking water at the campground. Limit your alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether. If you’re diabetic, carry a source of glucose with you in case you experience a drop in your blood sugar levels.
Assess hiking trails
One of the wonderful things about camping in the wilderness is the abundance of nearby hiking trails. Trails are generally graded based on the level of difficulty so it’s crucial to assess the level of each one and read park notices before you commit to hiking a trail. Don’t feel pressured into taking part in activities that are beyond your level of comfort, and instead, focus on protecting your heart. If you need to take regular rest breaks in your tent or ask for help, be sure to do so.
Embarking on a camping trip this season could be the break you need to recharge, disconnect from social media, and help your sleep cycle sync up with nature. Make sure to sit down with your healthcare team before you plan your trip to address any concerns you have, and remember to let them know the dates you’ll be away. After that, happy camping!
IF YOU’RE LIVING WITH HEART FAILURE, OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS THIS CHRONIC ILLNESS, CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR CLOSED FACEBOOK SUPPORT GROUP AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION.