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The Roving Sportsman… Shape Up!

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. I will admit that over the recent weeks, the weather has been continually hot and humid and thus not the most pleasant environment in which to start a rigorous exercise program. But, the weather now seems to be trending to the cooler and less humid side, so let’s lay out some plans.

Shed some unwanted weight:

There is little doubt that losing weight is not the easiest thing to accomplish, especially as you age. But, by setting a realistic goal of shedding just a couple of pounds per week, then adjusting your eating habits slightly will (hopefully) set you on a path to success. Reducing sugar intake will play a major part in any weight loss endeavor. There are plenty of weight loss programs out there, but in reality, one simply needs to muster up the willpower to avoid overeating and to undertake a much-needed exercise program.

Cardiovascular fitness:

It is critical to be able to comfortably and safely hike the hills and trails, especially if you have not been doing so prior to 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 and descend. 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 will actually 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:

While a weight training bench with dumbbells and barbells is beneficial, it is unnecessary. There are plenty of exercises that you can do for strength and balance that do not require external equipment. Pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges, are all exercises that will increase strength, improve muscular fitness and help develop better balance. If you have access to a gym with machines or free weights, 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:

Simply put, you will lose weight if you burn more calories than you take in. 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:

In the end, the goal is to become a better hunter and outdoorsman. One way to accomplish that is to lose some unwanted pounds. You can move more quietly and efficiently through the woods and won’t leave so much scent because you are breathing so heavily.

Combine weight reduction with better eating habits, and you will feel better and will no doubt have many more years to hunt, fish, and spend time recreating in the outdoors. Procrastination is soooo easy! Make a plan to get started today to becoming a more fit outdoorsman, and your reward will be a renewed ability to enjoy the wonders that Mother Nature has to offer.