Want to be more adventurous? Take a leaf out of Levison Wood’s book. A former Officer in the British Parachute Regiment (so pretty fearless to start with), Lev has travelled to and worked in over 90 countries, many of them far off the beaten track and relatively precarious, in terms of both terrain and politics. Most well known for his ‘Walking The Nile’ and ‘Walking The Himalayas’ TV documentaries, Lev doesn’t shy away from a challenge, and his expeditions have seen him complete the first ever successful walk across Madagascar from coast to coast (he’s big on walking), climb mountains in Iran and complete scientific research projects in Burundi, to name just a few of his feats so far.
Given the fact that he covered over 4000 miles walking along the Nile alone, how does he maintain both his fitness and composure, and what health obstacles does he face both on his travels on home soil? We quizzed the explorer, photographer and author to find out...
Get The Gloss: What's your overall approach to health, fitness and nutrition?
Levison Wood: I do my best! That’s honestly probably as good as it gets. I try to live as healthy a lifestyle as is possible. Sometimes that’s quite difficult, which seems off seeing as I spend half of the year walking, but the reality is that in a lot of the places I go to, you can’t just walk into a supermarket and grab a nice salad. You can find yourself stuck eating a lot of crap for days on end!
It can be a real health issue, for instance in many places in Africa it’s hard to come across bottled water. You either do what the locals do and drink water that isn’t clean, or the only thing that you can get hold of is a can of coke. So in parts of Africa I lived on Coke and unhealthy food for weeks. When I’m back home I try to eat healthily...
GTG: How much is fitness a priority in your life?
LW: I try to maintain a base level of fitness by going out for a run a couple of times a week and I swim whenever I get the chance. If I’m training for a particular expedition I’ll focus more on what the goals are. I’ve been in recovery for the past 12 months because I broke my shoulder so a lot of the stuff that I’ve been doing has centred on that. That’s where the swimming comes in! Otherwise my fitness routine is pretty ad-hoc. I don’t have a single, overarching lifestyle mantra.
I was in the army, and obviously it was very important to be fit. As a soldier, there will be times when you really need to use that fitness on a practical level, but it’s also about setting an example. If you’re leading a group of soldiers, you need to be the fittest one there. You’re the boss. I’ve kind of taken that attitude forwards and maintain a level of fitness. Obviously I’m ten years older than when I was in the army, and though you’re not going to keep up with the 22 year old racers anymore, there’s no excuse not to be as fit as you can be. It’s about finding time and being disciplined.
GTG: How do you in squeeze fitness and training around a busy schedule?
LW: Squeezing in training is difficult, there’s no doubt about it, especially when you’re living in a city like London where there’s lots of distractions and always something going on. There’s usually something every night for me, whether that’s doing a talk or attending an event. It’s tough but I’m lucky in the sense that for a lot of the year I’m away and doing some kind of exercise naturally, even if that just consists of walking. People can really underrate the value of walking. You’re not necessarily doing exhausting cardio, but if you walk 20-30 miles a day you’ll definitely lose weight, develop muscle and improve your general, all-round strength!