The Importance of Physical Fitness When Hunting

Hunting is a relatively safe sport, resulting in fewer injuries and deaths annually than bicycling or skiing. Most hunters are conscious of safe gun handling, but many are not aware of the importance physical fitness plays in staying safe and enjoying the experience.

In my home state of Colorado, out of shape hunters coming from lower altitude are more likely to have a fatal heart attack than to die from a gun related injury. (In 30% of people, the first sign of heart disease is sudden death). Even in West Virginia where altitude is not such a big factor, 3 of 7 reported hunting deaths and injuries in a recent year were from heart attacks; two of the other four were from a hunter falling from a tree stand.

Everything from gardening and golf, hiking to triathloning is more fun and safer when we are healthy and physically fit to do what is in front of us.

Remember that fitness includes not only cardiovascular health, but balance, reflexes, strength and flexibility. Acquiring and keeping these qualities takes only a few minutes a day and can usually be incorporated into ordinary activities. Part of the deal is to maintain good nutrition and a healthy weight.

One of my favorite memories is of an older man, quite fit, at the gym. There were a several local races being promoted at that time and I asked him if he was training for something; his response: "Life." Those who do train for life enjoy their activities the most, have the energy to do more, live longer and healthier and are less likely to need multiple medications and nursing home care until far advanced age, if then.

Keep the following in mind

  1. The more fit you are, the less likely a heart attack will interupt your vacation and maybe your life.
  2. Struggling to keep up is frustrating to you and to your partners.
  3. If you are in shape, you can walk longer distances, climb hills and carry your equipment without panting so much you ruin the experience.
  4. If you are fit, you are less likely to be breathing so hard you cannot hold your rifle steady and hit your target.
  5. Physically healthy people can say yes to a last minute invitation to join a strenous activity.
  6. The more fit you are, the faster you can run from predators. Remember, you just have to outrun your partner, not the bear!

Dr. Obrecht is an M.D. addiction medicine specialist, the only one on the western slope of Colorado. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Her office is in Steamboat Springs and she does consultations and referrals to anywhere in the country.


 

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