Now’s the Time

     Did you ever notice how sometimes when you’re at work you only feel awake for the first few hours? Then you start to get worn out and tired, and by 2 in the afternoon you could go to sleep? No, it’s not normal. It’s probably lack of exercise and/or a terrible diet. But usually it’s lack of exercise. The same consequence of a sedentary lifestyle revolving around the television awaits you this hunting season if you don’t get in shape now.
     I know lots of folks who hunt out of a tree stand for two hours in the morning and two more hours in the evening. So why exercise? You’re just sitting, and when/if you shoot a deer you can just tie it to your ATV and drag it out of the woods (more sitting). But it’s a hell of a lot easier to stay alert and focused if you are in proper physical condition. There is a reason why so many college athletes have legitimately high grades and participate in student government. And extracurricular clubs. And charity work. When you get enough high-intensity physical activity you increase your mental acuity in addition to having more energy, not less. It’s easy to think “I just worked all day and I’m tired, how could I possibly put in a 30 minute workout and take care of things around the house. It’s just too much.” Well, you sir are a first-class lazy twit. After a good dose of exercise you will feel more energetic and your mind will focus faster and more intently. And best of all, exercise leaves you feeling good. It doesn’t always sink in instantly but strenuous physical activity does inspire the release of endorphins which promote a feeling of overall well-being. It’s something like a modest, natural high. It’s often said that a bad day hunting is better than a good day at work. So imagine a good day hunting when you feel good overall and are also peppy and mentally sharp. Who wouldn’t want that?
     You don’t need to run 10 miles every day or start a structured hour-long work out routine at the gym five days a week. You need only do something above and beyond what you normally do (mowing the lawn doesn’t cut it, even if you have a push mower. Which you probably don’t). A one mile run three times a week will work wonders for your energy level as well as over all health. Running also gets your cardiovascular system into shape which is critical for chasing after all manner of game and is especially important for dragging big game out of the woods. If running truly isn’t your thing you can put in some time hiking. It will prepare you to navigate the uneven terrain as well as condition your body. If you do it in your usual hunting places it also allows for extra scouting.
     Weight training is a great way to build muscle and strengthen your bones. Hunting can be mighty unpredictable and you never know when you’ll have to lift or drag something, including your own body weight. That’s where some extra muscle mass comes in handy. If you should take a nasty fall having strong bones can be the difference between laying in the leaves with a broken leg and limping away with a bruise. Again, you don’t need a full gym membership. A set of free weights and sturdy straight back chair will allow you to work arms, shoulders and back. A bench will allow you to expand your workout to include chest exercises as well.
    But even if you don’t invest a single red cent in equipment, running remains free of charge, as do situps and pushups. If you stick to these three things, you will get a great cardio work out and work most of the muscles you are likely to use in the woods, including the most important one: your heart. Cardiac arrest is no laughing matter and it’s even less so when you are up on a mountain or slogging through a swamp with no way to quickly get help. So take the time now to get in shape and help ensure you’ll be around to enjoy at least a few more seasons.

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