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Fishing Fitness

Blog by: Lloyd Tackitt , TX 10/14/2018
I'm 65 and I live on the Brazos River, on the bank.  I can walk across my yard and into the river.  The river bank is steep and I have a set of crude concrete bag steps cut into it to make it navigable.  When I get into the water I generally wade about a mile or so down or up stream.  When I get back that bank is a whole lot steeper.

I've been fishing this river stretch for over 40 years.  Used to be I'd hit the river, stay out all day, and come back up that bank with a zip in my step.  That zip has faded the past 10 years or so.  

My dad lived here first.  He was in his mid-forties when he moved here.  He was in and out of the river all the time.  Until he wasn't.  He reached a point in his late 50's that the bank got to be too much for him to descend much less to climb back up.

I fully intend to live here all my life, and I deeply want to be able to climb that bank until my last few days.  Not sure how well that's going to work out, but I have a plan.

There are a few levels to this plan.  One is regular routine visits to my doctor to look for any upcoming problems and hopefully sort them out before they become un-sortable.  My dad had congestive heart failure and that turns out to have been preventable, had it been caught early enough, and had his doctor been smart enough.  That's an example of why I see my doc every 3 months for a health check.  I use my doctor as a health partner, not as an all seeing omnipotent medical man.  It's my body, my responsibility.  Doc is just part of my system.

Another is what I eat.  I have radically changed what and how I eat, and that has led to a large reduction in weight and a big improvement in health and energy.  Still got more to lose, but I'm a lot lighter than I was, and that does help a lot on endurance and climbing that bank.

Perhaps the biggest one though is weight lifting.  I've been weight lifting on and off most of my life, I enjoy it.  Or rather I enjoy the results of it.  Feeling fit is a very good thing.  I'm not a big muscular guy, but I have serviceable muscles.  Fitness is a big deal.  I got way out of shape from about age 60 to 63 or so.  Then I got on the plan.  What a huge difference.  

Weight lifting isn't a gym activity for me - I live too far away from any gyms to make that viable.  Instead I have free weights at home.  I lift alone, no spotters, so that limits the amount of weight I can safely handle, but I don't find that to be all that much of a limitation.  Free weights are better than machines because you have to keep your balance while using them, and as I age, being able to maintain a steady balance gets more important. Free weights definitely help with that.  Maintaining balance while wading in the river, sometimes on slippery rocks, while far off from home, and alone, is crucial.  I don't take that lightly anymore, not like I used to.  A fall with a broken hip out there?  Could be actually fatal.

I follow a simple weight routine.  Squats, overhead presses, deadlifts, bench presses, curls and toe raises (toe raises are performed on the steps without weights).  That is a complete total body workout.  6 simple exercises.  It doesn't take long either.  Look up Mark Rippetoe for technical aspects.

As we age it takes our muscles longer to recover from resistance training.  When I was younger it was an every-other day thing to lift.  But now it is every 3 to 4 days.  That means that on average I lift twice a week.  

Recent scientific double blind placebo controlled type studies have shown that one set performed to failure provides the same strength gains as three sets performed to failure.  That one set is as good as the three sets, if strength gain is the goal.  If hypertrophy is the goal, then three sets are still required.  I thought that sounded too good to be true, but I gave it a six week trial period and I absolutely continued to gain strength (as measured by repetitions possible) as before.  And I'm not interested, at age 65, in having large muscles - just better ones.

So, get this, I spend on average about 40 minutes per week (total) lifting weights, and I'm getting results.  I'm far sturdier, have a hell of a lot more endurance, and my balance has improved significantly.  On the days I don't lift weights or spend time wading in the river I go for walks at a brisk pace.

And Now, Now I'm looking into something I never thought I would do - yoga.  Seriously, I'm not a new wave kind of guy, I am in fact an old curmudgeon.  But one of my grown sons has taken up yoga and he swears it has stopped his chronic knee paint and improved his total fitness - and he was seriously fit to start with.  He did that P90X or whatever it is called and weight lifting and that boy (man to everyone else) had not an ounce of fat, ripped muscles, and strong as hell.  If he says it improved his fitness, then I'm listening.  New age crap or not, he's not one to enthuse without cause.  One thing about yoga that I'm quite sure of is that it should improve/increase my flexibility and balance - and those will go a long way in keeping me in that river too.

The only reason I started improving my health is because of fishing.  I'd gotten to the point that fishing was a serious physical strain that left me in pain and wondering how soon I'd not be able to do it anymore.  But for wanting to go fishing I'd still be fat and medically challenged and soft.  I guess we find our motivation where we find it.

Do you exercise with fishing in mind?  What do you do?
Blog content © Lloyd Tackitt
Blog Comments
Neyet Stalker, 10/14/2018 3:36:51 PM
No question about it staying in shape is critical as we get older. With a bad back my fishing efforts are limited to just 2-3 hours. A regular exercise routine helps me to not only fish, but complete all of the tasks of an active lifestyle. I do crunches for the core, shoulder work , a hundred push-ups, some leg exercise I strive to do a full body effort. I am in better shape now at 59 than I've been in years, and hope to be stronger at 60+!
bron, 10/14/2018 5:18:44 PM
I have lifted weights since my 20s and I still do and Im 51. I alternate bench and curls and do a pyramid where I start with lots of warmup reps at a lighter weight and decrease reps and sets as I increase weight. My warmups on curls are 60# and bench is 120#. I lowered them 10# when I turned 50. I alternate in nights on the treadmill for cardio, usually around 2.5mph on a incline for 45 minutes. I excercise 4-5 nights a week the minute I get home from work. I have 2 bad discs in my back and my left ankle is trashed but my routine protects my core and keeps me flexible. I did deal with a hernia last year but the doctors say the lifting didnt cause it and told me to get back in my routine 6 weeks after surgery to prevent that.
rkhancock, 10/15/2018 7:09:13 PM
I do exercise with fishing in mind. Usually lift 4 days a week. Leg day, shoulders/forearms day, biceps/back, and then chest and triceps. lifting definitely helps with endurance especially since my dad and I pretty much only shore fish and walk around the entire day. I sometimes add in some running for cardio but usually get a good amount of cardio in from walking and fishing. Doing cardio on a more regular basis would also greatly help with endurance while fishing. Like you said, diet is a big part of staying healthy and thats the main part I try and focus on. I think its important to get your diet right first then start adding in more and more exercise.
jibber, 10/17/2018 6:49:49 AM
Good article! I found the part about the use of free weights and balance very interesting.
Abel1, 10/17/2018 12:01:14 PM
Lloyd Are anywhere near Fulshear?
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), 10/17/2018 12:18:58 PM
Abel1 - I'm about 3 hours from there I'd guess. I'm about halfway between Waco and Fort Worth.
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), 10/17/2018 12:21:06 PM
jbber - using free weights requires an entire range of muscles to be activated, some of them quite tiny like in the feet and ankles and so on. This does improve balance quite a lot, or at least I can say that it has for me for a fact.
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), 10/17/2018 12:22:17 PM
Neyet Stalker - I whole heartedly agree. My lower back used to get to hurting after a few hours of standing in the river. After I started doing dead lifts that stopped.
Neyet Stalker, 10/17/2018 3:45:07 PM
Lloyd Tackitt, I was into body building and long distance running during my younger years. Many years of hard work labor type work has ruined my back. It would be nice to still lift weights! I have to be very careful what I do anymore, and regular cortisone shots only help a little to ease the pain. Stretching has also proved to be very helpful, and staying consistent with a program is key!
Abel1, 10/17/2018 6:29:51 PM
Thanks Lloyd. You mention the Brazos River. The company I work for is building a new community in Fulshear. Going to be pretty good size with parks etc. They say that small town is growing. I grew up in the mountains and cut lots of firewood. I had to show my dad how strong I was so I would lift the trees myself. 'He said let me help you. When you turn 35 your going to feel it". He was right. I have worked construction all my life. 20 years in the field. 10 of them soaked on a daily basis in Seattle. The other 10 freezing my rear off building homes throughout the winter. No heat/windows or doors. Blowing snow and freezing temps weren't optimum working conditions but I had to eat. I longed for one of them warm office jobs. And I have had one for the last 18 years. I felt 10 times better when worked in the field than I do now. When I get up in the mornings every joint aches. Who would have thought exercise could actually make you feel better. I start out with push ups and then a few other light exercises and I'm good to go. If you don't keep those muscles stretched you feel terrible. Exercise is a good thing. For a lot of reasons. Glad to see everyone here doing it.
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), 10/18/2018 6:59:04 AM
I spent a big part of my adult life working construction, year round outdoors. I was in way better physical shape from that than the past twenty years at a desk. But that physical life also brings damages, so it is a trade-off. Just like sitting at a desk is also a trade-off. Pluses and minuses to everything. Exercise programs have to be individually tailored to suit our bodes and our unique needs and conditions. Learning to listen to my body has helped me a lot. Running was never something I liked, although I tried it a few times in my younger days. I don't have the "gait" for it, I'm more of a galumper than a runner.. Probably saved my knees though.