Internal Fitness


Most of the articles I write focus on muscle strength, overall cardiovascular health or how to get into better shape so you can enjoy more time outdoors. This time I’m going to focus on what you can do to ensure that you’re as healthy on the inside as you are on the outside.

Sure, it’s crucial that you stay healthy to prevent injuries when you’re afield, but it’s also important for you to maintain a certain level of internal health throughout the calendar year. This goes well beyond your yearly physical or doctor appointments. Let’s focus on small steps you can take to be a better version of yourself instantly. Not shortcuts, but quick and easy ways to improve your health without hitting the gym.

Deep breathing
It’s been proven through many scientific and medical studies that deep breathing can not only improve your health, but also can prevent things like high blood pressure, anxiety and muscle strain. Increasing the flow of oxygen to your muscles throughout your body will send a signal to your brain that all is well, and you can relax.

Try this: Next time you have a particularly stressful event happening, take a series of 10 slow, deep breaths. Psychologically, this will give your brain ample time to process the situation to make a more rational decision. It will also physically allow your body to function on a higher level because of the increase in oxygen levels throughout your system. If you need one more reason to practice deep breathing—it can also help tighten abdominal muscles. See there? It counts as exercise!

When we think of meditation we often think of someone who spends hours sitting in an uncomfortable position on the floor while focusing on not thinking about anything. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Meditation can be whatever you want it to be. It can occur in short bursts, in any location, and can actually improve your ability to complete tasks.

Because we like to focus on ways to improve our time in the outdoors here at MidWest Outdoors, let’s think of some ways that meditation can apply to someone who likes hunting or fishing.

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If you’re fishing and you find yourself on the calm water at sunset, you can take a few minutes of your time to meditate. Sure, if you get a fish on it’s okay to interrupt your meditation to pull it in (you have my permission). But if you have some quiet time to reflect or to think about a task you need to complete or even an issue you’ve been having in your life, this is a good time.

If you’re hunting and you find yourself watching the sunrise over a quiet morning, you can meditate for a while in that moment. It doesn’t mean that you have to close your eyes and sit on the floor. Focus on deep breathing, opening your mind up, closing your fears down and seeing the bigger picture of life from a new perspective. As individuals, we all have our own ways of relaxing our minds, and this is a good time for you to explore the health benefits of meditation and how it can improve your functionality in life.

I’m not here to sell you supplements, but I am here to tell you that specific supplements can be beneficial if you know what to look for and can then ask your doctor or pharmacist about them. I know some who take up to 20 supplements per day. I, however, am not one of those people. I like to keep my diet in check so that I get most of my nutrients from food. I do know that there are some crucial elements lacking, even from my healthy food intake. There are many different brands and types of supplements out there, and I never like to push people to take exactly what I take just because it works for me. I do use the Green Infusion from Wilderness Athlete because it has what my diet is missing—think supergreens, superfruits, probiotics, vegetable extracts—and helps to alkalinize my body. I also try to remember to take my multivitamin and fish oil every day (also available at A combination of those three things only takes me a few seconds every morning to get into my system and the benefits are obvious in my overall health.

Joint health
Speaking of fish oil, let’s talk about joint health. As we age, sometimes our joints get aches and pains that are unexplainable. If you’ve spent your life playing outdoors, chances are that your joints have experienced some stress over the years. I take fish oil because it promotes joint lubrication, but it also helps with strong bones and healthy skin. When I take it I feel like I’m doing my body a huge favor with no downside.

Along with keeping your weight in check and exercising regularly, fish oil and glucosamine can help reduce inflammation, and adding calcium to your diet is a sure way to ease the pain of getting older. If you do notice that one of your joints is swollen or sore, add ice and rest. Be sure to visit your doctor and ask if what you are taking is right for you. And if you have been given approval and are taking supplements including the fish oil and notice that you have chronic pain that doesn’t subside quickly, stop taking the supplements and check with your doctor.

We are all very different—the way we are made, what our bodies require, our levels of activity and how our bodies respond to supplements or exercise. Keep in mind that all of these are just guidelines. This is what I do to prevent injury and to keep my body in tiptop shape so that I can enjoy my time outdoors even more. I like knowing that my body’s needs are being met and that my brain and psychological state are healthy and I have the tools necessary to be the best version of me.