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The Roving Sportsman… Getting Into Shape for Hunting

Tragically, every year as the hunting season gets underway and the “army” of Pennsylvania hunters hits the woods, unpleasant discoveries are made. As these hunters travel deeper into the woods than normal in pursuit of small or big game, the chances are all-too-real that they may come across a hiker or camper that has passed away. Frequently, the deceased person was simply not in the best of shape to handle the rigors of their outdoor activity. Such tragedy can easily be avoided by simply taking the time and effort to get in better physical shape. There are a number of general areas of concern that need to be addressed as you lay out a plan to become more physically fit.

Shed some unwanted weight.

Soon, we will all sit down at the dinner table to eat our fill of Thanksgiving turkey and all the side dishes (and pies!) that go with it. If that is not enough, most folks will stay in the Holiday spirit right on through Christmas and New Year! It is the season to celebrate and to overeat. One simply needs to muster up the willpower to avoid overeating and to undertake a much-needed exercise program.

Cardiovascular fitness is critical to being able to comfortably and safely hike the hills and trails, especially if you have not been doing so before the hunting seasons. There is no better time than now to begin getting into shape, so start today by going for a walk. Once it feels comfortable to do so, lengthen the distance, pick up the pace, and look for a route with some hills to climb. Take your dog for a walk, especially if he is a dog that you hunt with – he will need to get in shape also. Having the dog by your side actually will help take your mind off the fact that you are exercising. While walking and running are perhaps the best exercises for cardiovascular fitness, it is highly beneficial to include biking or swimming.

The nearby rails-to-trails path that runs through the Pine Creek Valley is an excellent place to bike. The various cardiovascular workouts will focus on your larger muscle, such as your leg muscles, expand your lung capacity and raise your heart rate throughout the activity.

Muscular fitness and strength training should also be addressed. While a weight training bench with dumbbells and barbells is beneficial, it is not a necessity. There are plenty of exercises that you can do for strength and balance that do not require the external equipment. Pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups along with squats and lunges are all exercises that will increase strength, improve muscular fitness and help develop better balance.

If you do have access to a gym with machines or free weights, then include leg presses, toe raises, bench presses, biceps curls, and triceps extensions – these will all strengthen the muscles you will tend to use in hunting.

Proper nutrition is equally important. Simply put, if you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. If you don’t, you won’t! Pay closer attention to just how many calories are in the foods you are eating and start making smart choices as to substitutions so that your caloric intake comes from a better source of nutrition. You do not need to subject yourself to some crazy crash dieting. By paying closer attention and making steady adjustments to your food intake, you will develop long-term habits that will serve you well over the long haul.

Set a goal to become a better hunter. One way to accomplish that is to lose some weight. You will be able to move more quietly and efficiently through the woods, and you won’t leave so much scent because you are breathing so heavily. By shedding those extra pounds, you will feel better and will no doubt have more years to hunt in the future.

Procrastination is soooo easy!

Make a plan to get started today to become a more fit outdoorsman, and you will be able to have a greater enjoyment of your time afield.

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