Healthy Hunter: 5 Easy Changes to Help You Feel Better

Dragging out a deer, like with this Heavy Hauler Outdoor Gear harness, can be taxing even for healthy hunters. Being in shape can help you in the woods when you're hauling out a buck or doe.

Dragging out a deer, like with this Heavy Hauler Outdoor Gear harness, can be taxing even for healthy hunters. Being in shape can help you in the woods when you’re hauling out a buck or doe.

It’s pretty well known that a lot of folks who want to make life changes do so at the beginning of a month, on Jan. 1 or after a significant event like a job change, loss of a relative or friend, or other big event.

Just look at all the New Year’s resolutions that are proclaimed each January. Lose weight! Stop smoking! Eat better! Stop being a grumpy cat! Shoot my bow gun and crossbow more often! Take the kids fishing and camping! Get a new job, clothes, house renovations … and on and on.

So let’s jump on the cliche bandwagon since it’s May 1, spring is finally here and it’s a starting point. First day of the month … warm weather … deer season just a few months away. Now’s a great time to make a few changes you’ve been thinking about because I know you’ve been thinking about that. Why? Because I do, too. Joe Average Hunter usually, in some way, wants to be able to shoot better with more strength and less strain, walk around in the woods easier, drag a deer without wheezing and so on.

As always, contact your physician before making any huge exercise changes. Getting a regular checkup, especially if you’re over age 40 (or almost 50, like some of us!), is just a good idea. Don’t put it off or be hard-headed. Be smart about your health.

Here are five easy things you can change:

Drinking more water and fewer carbonated, sugary and caffeinated beverages is an easy step you can make to being healthier.

Drinking more water and fewer carbonated, sugary and caffeinated beverages is an easy step you can make to being healthier.

Quit Drinking Sodas
I quit drinking sodas on a regular basis many years ago after seeing a television news show report about how much sugar is in a 12-ounce can. The woman being interviewed was holding a test tube with an eye-popping amount of sugar in it and then she said, “And that’s just a 12-ounce can. But everyone drinks a 20-ounce bottle, or more.”

I don’t believe everything I see on TV or read, but it’s undeniable that sugary carbonated sodas are not good for you. They’re just not. They taste good. I like a Mountain Dew or Coca-Cola or Cheerwine on a hot summer day or with pizza or a burger. But those little pleasures are few and far between.

There’s no doubt you have a friend or two who has lost weight and you asked how, and the reply included, “I stopped drinking sodas and began drinking more water.” It’s not a startling revelation or big newsflash. But it’s an easy change you can make.

Drink more water, too. Everyone’s needs are different, but if your pee is brownish or yellow then most physicians likely would say you need to drink more water. And if you’re older, don’t drink a lot of water before bedtime. Getting good, uninterrupted sleep is beneficial for your body.

Move, Move, Move
Just do something. Be active. Most outdoors folks are, I think, in some way. They’re busy in the yard, have gardens, enjoy finding a trail to hike on in spring and summer, will do work at deer camp or go scouting on public land, if possible.

Getting a pedometer or any of today's fitness monitors is a super way to keep up with your activity. It's also addicting and you may even get into some friendly competition with family and friends about counting steps.

Getting a pedometer or any of today’s fitness monitors is a super way to keep up with your activity. It’s also addicting and you may even get into some friendly competition with family and friends about counting steps.

If you have a desk job, make time each hour to stand up, walk around and stretch. Sitting for hours and hours upon end isn’t good for our bodies. There’s more evidence showing that isn’t good for us. If you’re in an office or you work at home, get up and walk around every 40-45 minutes if possible. Go fill up your water bottle, use the bathroom, take a few laps around the office or whatever.

Get On a Walking Plan
If you’re not of a mind to get into jogging or running, start walking at least a few days each week and make it become a regular part of your day.

Whether you’re a morning person, can fit in a walk at lunch or need to do it after work, make time and do it. Walk around the neighborhood. Go to a park or greenway. If you have woods and trials, all the better. Getting a pedometer or Fitbit is a good way to keep up with your steps and that can become addictive. If you can, build up and hit that 10,000-steps-a-day mark to start feeling better.

Now, if you’re already in decent shape and have the interest, maybe it’s time to add some jogging to your routine. It’s not difficult. Again, check with your physician before starting anything. And jogging doesn’t mean you’re going to turn into a bone-skin marathoner. Check out the “couch to 5K” programs online or on your iPhone, maybe join a local running club to find joggers to help motivate you, and get your competitive groove on with a 5K or 10K race.

Race? Yeppers, you can do it. I’m 49 years old. For the last few years I’ve been walking and jogging. I’m still overweight (and want to lose 20 this summer/year) but I’ve done a couple of 10K and 5K races, had a great time and am feeling better. You can do it, too.

Make the investment into good workout shoes and performance apparel to help motivate you to keep going. Get fitted for the right shoe and style to avoid problems that might make you quit being active.

Make the investment into good workout shoes and performance apparel to help motivate you to keep going. Get fitted for the right shoe and style to avoid problems that might make you quit being active.

Make the Investment
A few years ago my wife and I joined a local fitness center that was about 5 miles from our home. She thought it was crazy that we were (a) paying for a fitness center membership and (b) we had to drive to get there. Her reasoning was that our neighborhood fitness center, as part of our yearly HOA membership, was smarter. (She was, of course, 100 percent correct.)

My excuse, though, was that I had to make myself drive to the fitness center to justify the cost and, therefore, I would be more inclined to go. (Man Reasoning 101, right? Right?) We eventually gave up the membership and now I just walk/jog around our neighborhood, and use our indoor center in winter.

You can join a fitness center and have that incentive, or simply go a less expensive route and get some good workout clothing and shoes. Performance clothing from Under Armour, Nike, Nomad, Adidas or whichever you prefer helps you cool down during activity and feel better. Go to a jogging store and make the time to get fitted by someone who can knowledgeably help you get the best fit and style.

Crappy shoes suck. If you have crappy shoes, you may have foot, ankle, knee and muscle or tendon pain. If you have that, you’ll likely not do something for a few days. And if you don’t do something for a few days you’re likely to chuck it all and not do anything.

Just like with good hunting boots, good walking/jogging/workout shoes are important. Make that investment, start putting one foot forward and get going.

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