The benefits of exercise

There are lots of articles at this site about the benefits of exercise.  Some people exercise their entire lives. Others are professional athletes where various forms of exercise are their work. For some of us exercise is an activity done at best a few times a week.  For too many people exercise is an activity they avoid.

When we see young fit glorified professional athletes we are amazed at their being ability.  You may think, “I could never do that.” Perhaps, it is outside your ability.  If you are 5 feet 4 inches tall, age 50 and overweight, you will not ever play in the NBA.

You do not need to be a professional athlete to be fit.  You don’t need to be 6 six 8 inches tall to enjoy playing basketball.  Being fit has nothing to do with professional athletes. There are a lot of ex-professional athletes, now in the 50s and 60s who are massively out of shape. There are also plenty that remain fit. There, too, are amazingly fit individuals that have never earned a dime in sport.

Being unfit can reduce how long you get to live.  I had a friend, tremendously unfit, who once said to me, “I’m here for a good time, not a long time.”  He said this to me when we ran into one another after years of not seeing each other. I nearly didn’t recognize him. A few months later he fulfilled his statement.

A lack of fitness will increase your risk for: coronary heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, hip fracture, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, obesity, and being over weight.  On the other hand exercise can lead a disability free extra 18.4 years of life.

Aging well is supported by fitness.  If you are young begin now developing a life style that will lead to an enjoyable existence in your later years.  If you have reached a point in your life that you feel too old to begin exercise you are mistaken.

In 2013 a group of investigators looked at physical activity and quality of life. They concluded that physical activity does improve quality of life. (1) It seems like a simple concept. Yet, the CDC has reported that 39.9% of the adult population of the US is obese. (2)

I do run nearly everyday. I also do a lot of walking during archery practice

Of course, you do not need to become a marathoner, Ironman, or open water distance swimmer to be fit. Walking, too often over looked for the lack of glamour given it by sports apparel corporations, is an ideal method to gain fitness. (3)

If you are reading this and you are an unfit archer you are on a path that can improve your fitness. Already you walk, back and forth to retrieve arrows, when you practice.  You may not be able to practice archery everyday, but you can walk everyday. Adding more walking to your archery-training plan will improve over health and fitness.

References:

1.Diane L. Gill, Cara C. Hammond, Erin J. Reifsteck, Christine M. Jehu, Rennae A. Williams, Melanie M. Adams, Elizabeth H. Lange, Katie Becofsky, Enid Rodriguez, and Ya-Ting ShangPhysical Activity and Quality of Life. J Prev Med Public Health. 2013 Jan; 46(Suppl 1): S28–S34. Published online 2013 Jan 30. doi: 10.3961/jpmph.2013.46.S.S28PMCID: PMC3567315 PMID: 23412703

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  2. 3.https://www.emedicinehealth.com/walking_for_fitness/article_em.htm#walking_for_fitness_getting_started

How Many Hours Per Week Do You Train?

On the internet I stumbled across an interesting article about archery.(1) It was based on a survey.  Years ago I ran a studies that collected survey data. In that research we needed to be certain the data submitted was correct.  In order to do so we contracted with a major university that audited cancer surveys. They’d developed a program that would sort suspicious entries. Those entries could then be questioned and verified.  The archery article I read had in the results data that I found questionable. (1)

Not certain those numbers add up

What caught my attention among the data on this survey were the hours that 2% of the respondents stated they practiced per week. (1) Those archers submitted they practiced more than 50 hours per week.  That seemed like a lot of practice.

I asked some professional athlete friends how much they trained per week. They train closer to 30 hours per week (triathlon/cycling).  More training than that and the return on training begins to diminish. I searched and found that as a group professional athletes practice about 5-6 hours per day 6 days per week. (2) That’s,  around 30 hours per week.

50+ hours a week of cycling would be too much for me.

There a limit of what the body can absorb from training.  If someone is pushing 50 hours per week, allowing for a 6 day week (assuming, perhaps erroneously the 50+ hours per week archers give themselves a rest day) that is 8.33 hours of archery practice per day.  It seems like a lot of archery in a day.

He’s my schedule:

Running is a great adjunct to archery. Races are fun.

I shoot and train about 30.5 hours per week.  I do not have another job so my days are clear for athletic work.  Not all of that 30.5 is shooting arrows.  I shoot arrows on an average two and a half hours per day broken, mostly, into two sessions.  I spend an hour per week at the gym, 2.5 hours stretching, 6 hours running, and 7 hours cycling.  This time does not include video review or study. I have one day off a week.  There are training cycles where this varies, this is an annual analysis.

Training as an archer should include more than shooting arrows

Now, you my think that shooting arrows about 14 hours per week will take a long time to reach 10,000 hours, the number of hours often associated with elite performance.(3) If that 10,000 rule was an absolute, you would be correct.  The 10,000 rule is not an absolute.

Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, often is misquoted in regard to the 10,000 rule

You may further think that 14 hours per week shooting is the extent of training.  Here you would be somewhat incorrect.  Indeed, it is archery practice. However, the other elements of training, the stretching, running, going to the gym, and cycling are all components to becoming a better archer.

Shooting a bow for more than 90 minutes at a time is a long time.  So, I typically break up archery practice into morning and afternoon practice sessions.  Aside from not becoming too physically fatigued, and increasing the risk of an injury, it means I have what I consider the best time frame for mental focus.  Too long at practice and it is easy to become mentally tired which can be followed by sloppy form.

Coaching tip

The brain needs a break as well as the body.  Anyone practicing archery for 50+ hours per week is likely headed toward injury or burnout. Personally, I question archers who claim to be practicing 50+ hours per week. Their math may be wrong or they may be including other activities. Either way, 50+ hours is a lot.

How many hours per week do you train? (The answer is for you, this is not a survey)

Reference:

  • hitting-the-bullseye-reel-girl-archers-inspire-real-girl-archers-full
  • https://www.quora.com/How-many-hours-do-athletes-practice-a-week
  • https://www.businessinsider.com/anders-ericsson-how-to-become-an-expert-at-anything-2016-6

Saving Turtles

Part of my overall training for archery includes cardio fitness exercise. In that essential area are running and cycling.  I’ve done a lot of running and cycling. Often, while cycling or running along side of a rural road I see a turtle trying to make it to the other side of the road.

Turtles aren’t known for speed but they do have endurance.  In that matter I can relate.  Whenever I see one on the road I pause to help it across.

Today I crossed paths while riding my bike with a large turtle and gave it a tow handed lift to the other side of the road.  This turtle never completely ducked back into its shell.  Perhaps it knew I was hoping to help.

On the round trip I checked to be sure I’d headed it in the correct direction.  I was pleased to find it making progress.

I searched for the turtle on the ride back. It took some looking but there’s it is heading away from the road.

Athens and Cycling

Some of the places I’ve lived and trained on a bike:

The flag tells it all for a cyclist.
Seriously, there’s some $$$ around here

Savannah, Georgia, Easton, Maryland, and New Hope, North Carolina, are all coastal cities. The cycling there is primarily flat. There’s wind, but there are no hills. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania there’s not much wind, there isn’t a level road in the city. In Pittsburgh you are screaming in pain on a climb or screaming in terror at 48 – 52 miles per hour going downhill. Cleveland, Ohio, where I lived near Lake Erie is flat. Kennesaw, Georgia has rolling hills and not much wind.  Augusta, Georgia and Statesboro, Georgia had some hills and were easy on the wind for cycling.

Athens is unique.  Athens has nice rolling hills with some decent climbs – nothing of the Pittsburgh caliber. What is unique is the wind.  There’s always wind. The wind here is practically coastal in nature.

On some rides, you just have to stop and smell the cow sh.t. We’re surrounded by cattle. (Better cows than cars)

Wind is an environmental element that anyone who plays outside must deal.  The only times, it seems, when the wind is calm are at times like these when I’m typing, glancing out the window, and see no limbs or leaves moving.  Of course!

Time-Trial Flop

If you read posting on this sight you know that I am keen on health and fitness. Everyday I do some form, often multiple forms, of exercise.  For example, aside from archery practice today, I stretched, ran, and did a time-trial on a bicycle. It’s that time-trial that flopped.

Now, I did get through the course I’d planned.  The idea was to break a prior personal best on the 11.7-mile course. No, 11.7 miles isn’t a long ride. It is the course that makes it tough.

For the first 3.6 miles the ride is all uphill.  Then, it levels, dips a little, and climbs some more.  The backside has a steep short downhill, then a gradual climb for the next several miles.  The final 2 miles intersects with the start of the course.  It is hard and I’ve been trying to break 30-minutes on the ride.

The plan was to use a triathlon bike.  On an easier try the day before I’d done the course in 32 minutes using a tri-bike. There was, along with the climbing, a heavy wind.  Usually, I’m on a road bike, the tri-bike using a tucked position helped in the wind. Without much effort I’d come close to the 30-minute time.

The bike I’d planned to use

When I picked up that Cannondale Slice tri-bike today the rear tire was flat.  Perfect.  I grabbed a road bike and planned to go for it anyway.

Let me say, I’m no meteorologist, but it seems unlikely that there can be a headwind at every turn and in every direction.  Yet, today it happened.  As hard as I pushed the wind pushed harder.

At 8 miles I thought there’d be a chance.  I thought I’d get out of the headwind and have a tailwind.  I was wrong. I didn’t get that sub-thirty minutes.

Fitness Minded

I often mention the number of archers that I compete against that appear, in my expert opinion, to be taking beta-blockers. They’re taking the drug, a PED in archery, to manage their hypertension.

I spent a solid decade studying hypertension and methods of treating it.  During that period I published research, sponsored the research of others, and helped develop methods to improve the health of people that have hypertension.

One of the best ways to combat the typical hypertension I see is through diet and exercise.  I worry about hypertension and the impact it could have on me.  Personally, a stroke would seriously limit my activity.

With that in mind, I exercise a lot.  The exercise aids in keeping my weight down – I do enjoy a good meal.  I admit I have exercised a lot all my life.

Picking up archery later (at 58 years old) than most archers being fit has not hurt me.  If I stopped shooting a bow tomorrow I’d still run and ride a bike.  In fact, I run almost everyday and ride a bike at least 4 times a week.

Wear these once then wash them. Fives days worth this week

I used to ride more when I raced bicycles.  When I picked up duathlons and triathlons cycling became another element of the sport. Of all the sports I’ve done cycling is my favorite (no offense to archers).  Actually, football is my second favorite sport and had it not been for cycling I’d have played in college.

Lots of nice open roads here in rural Georgia to enjoy cycling

In my junior year of high school I’d been scouted by a few college teams.  My high school coach had all but guaranteed my parents I’d get a chance to play in college. To them that meant college tuition they’d not have worry about.

But, I got hooked on cycling and thought I’d give it a ride to see if I’d make an Olympic Team.  It is impossible to keep weight on while racing bicycles.  So, my football opportunities dropped as fast as the weight.

Cycling didn’t pan out either.  Just out of high school I did have a chance to race in Europe but passed and gradually migrated my attention to academics then a day job.  Through out it all I stayed on a bike. And I eventually raced in Europe.

ITU Long Course Duathlon, World Championship – 2007

Decades of fitness are paying off now that I’m in my mid-60s.  I take no prescription drugs.  My blood pressure runs around 117/68 and my percentage of body fat is in the single digits.

Where fitness pays other dividends is in archery.  Over a long two-day tournament I am far more bored than fatigued.

I thought I heard someone yell, “Get him!.” So I ran like I stole something.

The hardest thing for me in archery is to remain in the game.  During a 4-hour 100-mile bicycle race or a 5-hour 70.3-mile ½ Ironman, I can stay focused.  (The young professionals are much faster than those times.) During a marathon or ½ marathon focus isn’t an issue.  During a long archery tournament my mind becomes numb.

That lack of focus might be assisted by a PED.  Certainly, those early end jitters would be reduced.  But, it is better to be fit and get through an event without the aid of a hypertension support medication. It is even better not to have high blood pressure.

Want to get fit? Check with your doc before you run around the block.

Lots of Competition Among the Older Runners

Before I left the house on Saturday morning, aside from stretching and eating breakfast, I took River for a run. We ran a short mile.  I kept it short because I needed to get on the road. I had a 5K race at 0900.

The race was really a nice run.  Over half of it was off road.  There was a good crowd even if the weather was a little sketchy.

Interestingly, the collection of subsets of runners on this Saturday is becoming more defined by my observations. I’ve been noticing this evolution of the running collective over years. It breaks down something like this:

There’s the young crowd of local track team members.  Then, there are women and more mature men.  By mature men, I mean the population of men over 50.

Here’s the thing about this group of runners at the 5K, some male age groups were totally unrepresented. There were no male runners from 19 years old to 24 years old.  There were two male runners between the ages of 25 and 29 and zero male runners between 30 and 34.  The age groups didn’t get populated for men until the 45 years old group. From 45 years old to 75 years old the grey haired male runners were abundant. Not only were there plenty of mature male runners those in attendance were fast.  The second fastest time of the day came from the 70 – 75 year old male group with the old fellow pacing out sub-7 minute miles.

After the race when I read the times I wanted to meet the 70+ year old man that ran sub-7 minute miles. So did another runner or two and we searched for him looking for his bib number.  We didn’t find him.  Obviously, he’d won and headed home, back to Snellville.  We all assumed he ran home.

I won my age group and did well overall.  I’d noticed the medals and wanted one so I stayed for the award ceremony.  Sometimes I see the award medal decide it isn’t worth the wait then head home skipping the award ceremony. But, this medal was clearly unique and a fair amount of thought had gone into its design.  I wanted it so I waited.

The wait wasn’t long – they started with the higher age groups and I’m in the third from the oldest group for this race.  When they called my name I walked to the awards area.  They’d handed the 2ndand 3rdplace finishers the cool looking medal each with a bronze or silver finish.  I received a water bottle!

To be fair, it is a nice metal water bottle.  I’m sure it cost more that the medal.  The water bottle has nothing on it to represent the race.  It’s a water bottle with a local middle school logo – the school whose grounds were used to host the race.  I am disappointed.  If I’d known, I’d had held back for second.

What I do know is there seemed to be percentage-wise few young adult males in this race.  When I first began running, then racing, the male population was by far the largest percentage of a race.  Not too long ago at major marathon the women, for the first time in that race’s history, outnumbered the male runners. Since then, not knowing the exact count, I think the races I’ve entered have been at least even based to gender and if anything the higher number of runners appearing to be female.  Certainly, in this 5K the female population was greater in number than the male population.

It will happen if you run trails. 

I’ve read and been told that archery is the second safest sport.   It really depends on the reference.  No doubt, archery is a safe sport. Running on the other hand, while it seems safe, can be hazardous.

If you do a lot of trail running you know where I’m headed.  Sure, you might get attacked by a mountain lion and need to fight for your life.  You might run up on a rattlesnake, copperhead, or other poisonous snake.  That’s when you sprint away while doing the hopping chicken dance.  Heck, in some places there’re bears to worry about.

Most likely all of those animal intersections with a runner are limited.  The more likely trouble comes from something that doesn’t even move – the root. In come cases a root might be a rock, stump, or other obstacle that just sits there waiting to trip you.

If you run trails it will happen. You’ll cross paths with that non-moving hazard and eventually the impact will be just right to create a face plant.

Run trails and a face plant is just a matter of time

I’ve had more face plants mountain biking than running.  I still have a fair share of running tumbles.  Yesterday, I ended up face down on a trail.  It wasn’t a bad fall.  Nothing has broken; there was a slightly scraped nose and a little frustration.

I was running with my dog, River, and I swear when she saw what had happened she laughed.

Aging and Exercise

In a recent paper sport champions and athletes were asked what they thought it took to become a champion.  The group had a large sub-set of Olympians (medal winners and participants), world Champions, State and Regional Champions as well as a sub-set of “chronic” athletes that had, at the time of the survey, not earned a Championship.  The group had spent a significant portion of the lives competing and training.    This of course makes sense because achieving a sport level of performance to reach a major championship takes years of preparation.1

The group seemed in general especially bright mentally as noted by their responses to the survey.  This wasn’t too surprising because the mean of the group is 53.8 years with a range of 26 to 78 years of age.1Nevertheless; there was an air of vitality among these athletes.

The survey was not done face-to-face with the athletes.  However, a large percentage of the athletes were seen face-to-face as part of typical social interactions.  In addition, after the survey a number of the athletes felt compelled to discuss the work by phone.  At times one or more of them were present at different gatherings.  Among those surveyed there remained a competitive presence as well as a high degree of verbal and body language mild posturing that could be considered friendly yet slightly aggressive regardless of age. The overall impression a bystander might of noted is that these people appeared extremely healthy and engaged. Certainly, the group is physically fit regardless of age.

An important observation is the general health of the group.  At a mean age of nearly 54 they are generally not overweight.  A few are overweight.  An archer is obese (but currently on a strict diet to drop the weight), there’s an overweight ex-football lineman (thought not obese) and in that category there is a PGA golf pro, and one ex-major league pitcher who are heavier than during their playing days.  In general, the group was not overweight. This may be attributed to; overall the group continues to exercise to a large degree.

Coaching Tip

Exercise is a relatively easy why to remain in good health both mentally and physically. 2,3As we age we can hope to die young at a very old age. In that vein exercise can be an adjunct to prolonged health and mental compacity.4Aside from clearly obvious physical attributes associated with aging and exercise, exercise decreases the degradation of our brains.5

Being physically active isn’t the sole method to engage our brains as we age. One study showed that individuals who played chess were cognitively engaged and had better health than a control group.6The same study, which compared the chess players to master level track and field athletes, revealed the athletes had more injuries than the chess players.6For those injuries the athletes gained a lower prevalence of chronic disease.6However, the chess players and athletes had a lower incidence of chronic disease compared to a control group.6

As we age, exercise can be modified to account for slower recovery times.7, 8Even with modification exercise among the senior population can improve quality of life and independent living.9As a measure of successful aging, exercising among the older population may be a model to support concepts of best health over longer durations as exercise works to protect the body including the brain.10, 11

Through active engagement in sport and exercise we can prolong better physical health and mental health. This becomes clear to an observer in the presence of chronic athletes.11By adding a regime of exercise to activities of daily living we can improve our quality of life.9

References:

  1. Lain,D C; What it takes to be a Champion.In review, NFAA Publication, Archery, Nov. 2018
  2. Trapp, S:Master athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001 Dec;11 Suppl:S196-207.
  3. Zhao E,Tranovich MJDeAngelo RKontos APWright VJ: Phys Sportsmed. Chronic exercise preserves brain function in master athletes when compared to sedentary counterparts. 2016;44(1):8-13. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2016.1103641. Epub 2015 Oct 29.
  4. Geard D,Reaburn PRJ, Rebar AL, Dionigi RA.: Masters Athletes: Exemplars of Successful Aging. J Aging Phys Act. 2017 Jul;25(3):490-500. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0050. Epub 2017 Jun 28.
  5. Tseng BY1,Uh J, Rossetti HC, Cullum CM, Diaz-Arrastia RF, Levine BD, Lu H, Zhang R.: Masters athletes exhibit larger regional brain volume and better cognitive performance than sedentary older adults. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2013 Nov;38(5):1169-76. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24085. Epub 2013 Mar 21.
  6. Patelia S, Stone RC,El-Bakri R, Adli M,Baker J.: Masters or pawns? Examining injury and chronic disease in male Master Athletes and chess players compared to population norms from the Canadian Community Health Survery. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2018 Nov 30;15:15. doi: 10.1186/s11556-018-0204-z. eCollection 2018.
  7. Foster C, Wright G, Battista RA, Porcari JP. : Training in the aging athlete. Curr Sports Med Rep.2007 Jun;6(3):200-6.
  8. Soto-Quijano DA.: The Competitive Senior Athlete. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am.2017 Nov;28(4):767-776. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2017.06.009.
  9. Spirduso WW1,Cronin DL.: Exercise dose-response effects on quality of life and independent living in older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun;33(6 Suppl):S598-608; discussion S609-10.
  10. Geard D, Rebar AL, Reaburn P, Dionigi RA.: Testing a Model of Succesfult Again in a Cohart of Masters Swimmers. J Aging Phys Act.2018 Apr 1;26(2):183-193. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0357. Epub 2018 Mar 24.
  11. Tseng BY,Gundapuneedi T,Khan MA, Diaz-Arrastia R, Levine BD, Lu H, Huang H, Zhang R.: White matter integrity in physically fit older adults. Neuroimage. 2013 Nov 15;82:510-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.06.011. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Running in the Dark

Often you’ll read at this website that I post articles about fitness.  Many of those posts include stories about running.  While cardiopulmonary fitness isn’t essential to pick up a bow and shoot it, it does improve one’s health and ability to maintain an athletic posture during long archery tournaments.

During hunting season I wear orange every time I run trails

Among the exercises I do as part of my training regime, running is a major element.  One manufacturer of running shoes once had an advertisement that read, “Athletes Run.”  Whether or not archery is part of my life, I believe running will always be a part of it.

One of the running pleasures I find most appealing is trail running in the dark.  In the winter months running in the dark is easy – it’s dark when I get up to run. In the warmer months this isn’t the case.

A head lamp is a must for running in the dark. River, my lab, has a little read clip-on light on her collar.

For some, the thought of running through the woods in the dark might bring to mind some scene from a horror movie. Not the case for me.  I do run with a light – getting smacked by a tree or limb isn’t on my bucket list.

Some mornings we finish running just after sunrise

Running in the dark is peaceful in my mind.  The woods are quiet and calm.  Occasionally, I run in the direction of some critter and that can be startling, but never horrifying.  I do run with my dog, River, who’s a big girl who provides a sense of ease when I cross paths with an unexpected animal.

Find this at night and you’ll wake right up

There’s a 1.3-mile loop behind my house that cuts a perfect trail to travel whether running or hiking. Sometimes I’ll run it in the morning and hike it in the afternoon.  I try to cover a few laps each time, more laps when running.

I understand not everyone that reads this site runs beyond being chased.  If you do run and have access to trails try running in the dark it is an entirely new experience compared to running during the day light. Oh, carry a light, bring your dog, and watch how you plant your feet. Also, let someone know where you’ll be running and when to expect you home. Plus, carry your cell phone just in case.  Before you run a trail in the dark run it several times during the lighted part of the day to learn the trail.  If you happen to get off the trail it isn’t difficult to get turned around.  If you happen to get lost, wait where you are until the sun comes up to regain your bearings.  Clear lens running eye glasses are ideal for not getting an eye poked out by a low hanging pointy limb. Now that I think about, maybe you shouldn’t run in the dark – you’d probably get hurt.