by Sam Summers
The date for Idaho’s controlled hunt applications has come and gone. Now, all we can do is wait for the results. But, that means one thing. Hunting season is just around the corner! While we have several months to wait for the season to open, now is the time to get ready. I am not talking about getting your equipment in shape but, your body in shape! Going up and down hills with a pack full of equipment requires the hunter to be in some reasonable shape. You don’t decide to run a marathon today and run it tomorrow. Getting in shape requires time and effort. So how do you do it?
Like the marathon runner, you start low and slow and build up. There are two aspects to getting in shape. The first is cardiovascular conditioning or aerobic conditioning. This is the part where one exerts over a period of time. Examples of this are jogging, biking, swimming, etc. Again, start slow and build up. Start with whatever you can do, say 10 minutes, and slowly increase as tolerated. Recommendations for this kind of exertion has increased over time to where hopefully we can exercise 30 to 60 minutes daily at recommended levels. So how do you tell if you are exerting hard enough or too hard? The recommendations are to get your heart rate to certain goals. Take 220 minus your age, say 60, and product is 160. That 160 is your maximum heart rate. Now take 50% to 70% of that and there is your goal heart rate, 90 to 112 heart beats per minute, in this example. The easiest way is to notice your breathing. Ever notice how if you are walking and talking with a friend and start up a hill and breathing becomes difficult to the point that you cannot talk? That’s when you are over the 70% level of your goal heart rate. You should always be able to talk. So an easy way is to increase activity until you cannot talk then slow down to where you can talk.
If you are older or have significant medical problems, it is always a good idea to be cleared by your physician before starting. If during your training, you develop chest pain, pressure or heaviness, severe shortness of breath or feel like you are going to faint, you should be evaluated by your physician. The other good idea is to cross train. That is, don’t do the same exercise every day. As we get older, we don’t tolerate that as well and get repetitive stress injuries. So one day walk or jog and the next day swim and the next day bike.
The other aspect of exercise is strength training. Aerobic conditioning is great but, when you are climbing hills you need the strength in your arms and legs to carry you. I had a patient who was on a sheep hunt and worked hard on aerobic conditioning but neglected his strength and suffered for it. So this is where you do resistance training with weights, elastic bands etc. Certainly, joining a club and getting started with a personal trainer is a good idea. Generally, start with low weights and when you can do 3 sets with 8 reps each, you can increase the weight. You want to strengthen muscles in arms, legs and don’t forget your core (back and abdomen). Generally with strength training, you want to take a day off between exercises periods to let the muscles recover. Resistance training should be at least twice a week. You can do exercises without equipment, pushups, sit ups and lunges are great for legs. You can get aerobic conditioning with weight lifting! When you are done with one set of exercises, go straight to the next exercise and keep your heart rate up. Don’t sit and rest. Another way to get aerobic and strength training is to put 10- 20 pounds in your fanny pack and head to the hills. Take your dog they need the exercise as well.
Don’t forget your feet! Many hunting trips have been ruined by blisters on the first day of the hunt. You can get your feet in shape by exercising with your hunting boots on. I always take and extra pair of socks and change them during the hunt. Also wearing thin liners under your hunting socks are great ways at preventing blisters. If you do get a blister, mole skin can be a hunt saver.
So how do I do it? I try to exercise daily. One day I will lift weights for about 45 to 60 minutes and the next day I will get on the treadmill, bike etc. for 30 to 60 minutes. You can also do home chores and get benefit. Instead of walking behind the lawnmower, push it. Instead of riding in a cart for 18 holes, walk!
The benefits of getting in shape are numerous. You will feel better, enjoy the hunt more and most importantly, you will get the satisfaction of watching your hunting partner suffer! Happy Hunting!