February is Heart Health Month. It’s the time of the year where we raise awareness for the health of your ticker because if your engine isn’t running efficiently and strong, your experience in the woods will be diminished. It might also mean your time in the woods is drawing to a close. One doesn’t have to become a runner or participate in 5K’s to improve heart health but there are a few things you need to know in order to reduce your risk of a heart attack and stay Fit To Hunt.
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2012, there are an estimated 117 million people who have a least one chronic health condition with cardiovascular disease being one of those conditions. A heart attack or stroke can be disabling at best and deadly at the worst.
I think for many, the image of a person keeling over while shoveling snow is the main outdoor cause of heart attacks in the winter time, but what if I told you buck fever could put you at risk for a cardiovascular event? Would you believe me? According to an research article in the American Journal of Cardiology , 25 middle-aged men with an average age of 55 were fitted with heart rate monitors during whitetail season. 17 of the 25 men had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease which means they knew they had blockage in their arteries. In different aspects of their hunts, 22 of the subject’s heart rates exceeded 85% of their age predicted heart rate maximum while hunting by doing things like dragging deer out of the woods. Some exceeded their max heart rates just by seeing a deer or what you and I call Buck Fever.
For a person with good heart health, dragging deer, climbing tree stands and butchering your harvest can be challenging. For a person in poor condition who may have underlying heart problems, it can be deadly. Here are some tips to help you improve your heart health and reduce the spread of Buck Fever:
1. Get a check-up: When we talk to new clients one of the first questions we ask is when was their last physical. Many cannot remember or have never had one. This is key because your doctor will be able to assess your risk, run some simple tests and help you understand the numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar) that impact your heart health.
2. Start moving: We use physical activity as the means to improve performance in the field but it serves a dual role in improving your heart health. Not sure where to go? Just start getting more steps in your day. If you need professional help, we can put together a personalized 6-week exercise plan to boost your aerobic fitness that is safe and effective. And if you have not been to the doctor in a long time we would encourage you to speak to your physician before beginning any exercise program.
3. Lose ten pounds: Your doctor may have suggested more but there is quite a bit of research that shows even a ten pound weight loss has positive effects on blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, if you can both lose and keep off ten pounds there is a good chance you will be able to lose more if needed.
4. Follow the 85% Rule: Our number one nutrition principle. Simply make the best choice 85% of the time (which leaves 15% of the time to eat what you want). How does it work? Choose the baked chicken over fried. Pick the apple over the candy bar. Drink water instead of a soft drink. You can still have fried chicken, candy bars and soda; you just aren’t consuming them the majority of the time.
5. If you smoke please quit: I can smell a smoker a mile away. So can the deer and no amount of scent spray can fix that problem. If you aren’t seeing deer it is because you smell like an ash tray and cigarette smoking will accelerate all of the risk factors for heart disease (and lung cancer). If you do smoke we implore you: Please work on quitting! We know it is tough and are here to support you the entire way.
6. De-stress: I have read that uncontrolled stress is as toxic to your body as cigarette smoking and obesity combined. There are a myriad of stress management tools available but one that will serve a dual role for you is exercise. This means you can blow off stress and improve the function of your heart at the same time.
The boys at Fit To Hunt want to help you improve your heart health and want you to look good doing it!
February 8-12 all merchandise is 40% off. Just use promo code: SHED40 at checkout. This time of year the best way to start working on your heart health is shed hunting. Take a walk in the woods, snap a pic of you in your Fit To Hunt gear and post it on our Facebook page to let us know you will not let Buck Fever get you down!
We want to start a movement across this great land. You are a member of the Tribe so help us build our brand and spread the message that being Fit To Hunt is a very good thing. If you know someone who needs to improve their heart health, share this blog with them. Thanks for reading and for letting us be a small part of your journey to better health, happiness and performance in the woods!