Ethan Lowry begins a new four-part series on staying healthy to enhance your performance by outlining some issues that may flare up in the months following the festive period
With Christmas and New Year festivities well and truly over, many of us will have started 2017 with a number of New Year’s resolutions or goals we simply would like to achieve. The vast majority of these goals centre themselves around health and fitness, losing a few pounds (or stone), being able to walk or run further, or to improve your muscular strength/endurance.
Causes of bad health
• As a nation we are consuming excessively more food than our bodies actually require.
• The foods we eat are highly processed and refined, stripped of good nutrients and pumped full of excess sugars and fats.
• Compared to previous generations we perform significantly less exercise, with a worryingly large amount of us doing nothing at all.
• Our day-to-day jobs are typically less active with a substantial amount of the population deskbound between the hours of 9am and 5pm.
As individuals we know we have to exercise. We know we have to watch what we eat, but do we really understand the adverse effects of not abiding by these principles? Living a healthy lifestyle does not always involve going to the gym five days a week and eating salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Exercise can be fun, enjoyable and even practical and healthy meals are far from just leafy greens. The age of the internet allows us to have an abundance of healthy recipes at our fingertips that we can either purchase or make ourselves.
The most up-to-date research has found that 61.4 per cent of the UK population is either overweight or obese. This may not affect you immediately but as the years go by, you will almost definitely begin to note numerous health effects that can be linked to being overweight or obese. It does not only affect our physical health, but also our mental health, relationships and sporting performance – even on the clay grounds.
Health problems linked to bad health
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
- Bowel cancer
This list could easily be extended but the majority of the population falls into one of these groups. The problem with not exercising enough and not controlling what we eat is that we typically don’t see the adverse effects of this immediately. It’s understandable how a bad couple of months can turn into a bad couple of years. Over time, as we consume too many calories from our unhealthy diets coupled with our lack of exercise, we start to gain those extra few pounds around the waist. At the same time, we will gain fatty deposits in between our organs and within our arteries. These factors are partly to blame for several of the problems mentioned below.
You may think to yourselves: “So what if I have gained a few pounds… I’ve had no problems so far.” But if these physiological changes persist and we develop one or more of the conditions mentioned above, we may reach the stage where we can no longer leave the house, never mind mount a gun over 100 times in a day. As serious as these health conditions are, simply being slightly overweight or short of breath can significantly affect athletic performance.
Ideally you should have controlled and centred breathing. As our breathing becomes more rapid we flare our ribs and our shoulders are raised up and down. This can change the position of our gun mount and our hands. Ask any rifle shooter and they will tell you the importance of breathing. Therefore, if you are experiencing shortness of breath walking between stands, this can significantly affect your performance.
A strong core and a secure standing posture can also significantly affect your scores. If you cannot absorb the recoil of the gun effectively throughout the entire shot, your shot’s pattern will be affected. Your core muscles will require adequate training in preparation for this and it may separate those who are placed in the medals from those who aren’t.
Having the strength to mount the gun all day is paramount to keeping up with your rivals. A gun may not feel heavy after the first five shots but when you’ve made your way through one carton of shells in the morning and then another in the afternoon, you will soon feel the effects.
Each of these are points we will revisit over the coming months as a four-part series, which will examine just how important health and fitness is, in the sport of clay pigeon shooting.