Far too often, backpackers, canoe paddles and campers plan a wilderness trip with just the equipment and destination in mind. They fail to consider one of the most important aspects of an enjoyable outing: physical condition. Ask yourself, can you hold up physically to the demands you may encounter? How do you plan a trip around your level of fitness?
A problem for beginners is that they might try taking on too much too soon. Novices in the field might attempt to take a trip that would be tough for the experienced person and never have any fun because of the excessive stress on their bodies. You can't have a good time if it's all aches and pains.
Beginners should start out on short day trips carrying a light pack and staying on easier terrain. Don't plan to hike a lot of miles initially; work your way up to longer hikes with a heavier pack.
There are some home exercises that can help prepare for a strenuous outing. Climb the stairs repeatedly or bicycle each day to strengthen calf and thigh muscles. Take a hike around the block carrying a loaded pack to get used to the weight.
If you plan on traveling in rugged terrain, consider a base camp approach with day trips from there. Once at your day camp, much less will be needed for your daily outings.
For tough trips, don't plan on doing everything at once. Cover fewer miles the first few days to allow yourself to get in shape as you go, and rest frequently.
Remember, backpacking, hiking and canoeing lets you access areas that can only be reached afoot or afloat. For the most enjoyment, let your interests and level of fitness dictate your trip.