Hunting & Your Heart Rate
As the leaves fall, you can almost feel the rise in excitement as avid hunters wait for the start of hunting season. For bow hunters, many are already out in the field and forests - for those waiting for deer-gun season, the start is just a few weeks away.
Weapons will be cleaned and prepped to go, blaze orange hunting gear has been hung outside to get rid of the "man" smell, and the plans have been made. Everything is ready for opening day - or are is it?
Hunting Raises Heart Rates to Dangerous Levels
Hunting season can raise your heart rate above its target limit, but that limit is different for everyone. American Heart Association guidelines say if you're active, your target your heart rate should be 85 percent of your maximum. If you're sedentary and don't workout much, you should shoot for a target of 50 percent. Calculate your target heart rate now.
Seeing that 12-point buck slowly walking into your sight line increases the amount of adrenaline that flows through your veins. The excitement of taking the shot can lead to a heart attack for a person who is struggling with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
A second risk occurs after you take your shot. After field dressing, hunters often drag their game through the uneven terrain for long distances to get to the hunting camp or vehicle. This also can overtax your heart, putting it well over your targeted beats per minute.
Hit the Gym Before Venturing into the Woods
Exercising just 20 minutes a day at your target heart rate can help you strengthen your heart muscle before heading to the deer stand. The stronger your heart is, the lower your heart rate stays when you exercise, get excited or exert yourself.
It's never too late to start working out. You may not realize 100 percent of the benefits for this year's hunt, but keep working and next year you'll reap the rewards.
How to Stay Healthy During Hunting Season
- Don't overdo it.
- If you feel chest pain, dizziness or an irregular heartbeat, don't wait. Get to the nearest medical facility.
- Take a cell phone with you. You can turn it off while hunting, but if you need to call for help, you will have a way to do so.
- Dress in layers to prevent hypothermia. Avoid wearing cotton, which absorbs sweat and moisture but does not wick it away from your body.
- Use tick repellent to prevent Lyme's and other tick-borne diseases.
- Wear skid-resistant boots to prevent falls.
- Let others know where you will be hunting.
- Make yourself visible to other hunters.
- Carry high-energy foods, water and a survival kit.
- Don't go it alone. Hunt with friends or family members.
- Don't eat a large meal before heading into the woods, which will put undue pressure on your heart.
- Don't smoke while hunting.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol that impair judgment.
- Check the safety of your tree stand and always wear a harness when in it.
- Take stretching breaks to maintain muscle flexibility and circulation.
- Be sure of your target and beyond.
- Wear heavy-duty rubber gloves when handling or field dressing your game.
- If you are staying in a cabin or camper, make sure you clean and check the heating system for carbon monoxide gas before going to sleep.
Whether you hunt to add meat to your freezer, to enjoy the camaraderie of your family and friends, or because you're looking for that elusive trophy, it's important to make sure that you take precautions while in the woods.
Good luck and stay safe!