Humans have been hunting since the beginning of our species. It was essential to our survival before we figured out how to plant and harvest crops. Today, hunting is less of a necessity and more of a hobby — since your family likely won’t starve if you aren’t successful — but it’s still incredibly popular. In 2021, there were more than 15 million registered hunters in the United States, meaning there are more hunters than people who live in Pennsylvania (the fifth most populous state)! Many of these are senior hunters who have been enjoying the hobby for decades. There are many reasons people choose to get into hunting, but did you know that it can also be healthy for you?
An Outdoor Workout
One of the biggest draws of hunting is getting out in nature. This is also where many of the health benefits come from, too. Simply spending time outdoors can be healthy for you. Research has shown that that it can improve your mental health, give you an energy boost, lower your risk of disease, and more! Remember, that’s just from being outside.
While it’s possible to take a vehicle to your hunting location, you’ll most likely be hiking at least a portion of the way to your destination.
Hunting also involves exercise which can further make it physically healthy for you. While it’s possible to take a vehicle to your hunting location, you’ll most likely be hiking at least a portion of the way to your destination. When you consider that you’ll be lugging along your hunting equipment, you’ll have some strength training on top of the cardio workout from hiking. Just make sure that you’re hiking safely (like wearing orange visibility gear) and following our hiking tips so that your hunting trip doesn’t end with an emergency. This is doubly true if you’re planning on turning it into a camping weekend.
The Mental Health Benefits of Hunting
Perhaps the most discussed health benefit of hunting is how good it can be for your mental health. We discussed earlier how being outdoors can be good for your mental health by helping you manage stress and fight anxiety. Add in the mental health benefits from hiking and you have a straightforwardly healthy activity, but it doesn’t end there.
Hunting requires a great deal of focus. When you’re waiting for the animal you’re hunting, you have to be quiet and pay attention — intently focused on your surroundings and only your surroundings. If you’ve got your mind on other things, you’ll likely miss out on your target. This sounds like something we’ve discussed in the past, right? In many ways, hunting is a form of mindfulness and meditation. Taking time away from the hustle and bustle of life and focusing on the hunt is a great way to clear your mind, clearing stress and anxiety with it.
When you’re in the woods, focusing on every sound and sight, you’re testing your senses and problem-solving abilities to the max.
This focus is also a great way to stay mentally sharp as you age. When you’re in the woods, focusing on every sound and sight, you’re testing your senses and problem-solving abilities to the max. Since our brains work in a “use-it-or-lose-it” sort of way with mental sharpness, hunting’s mental requirements can be a useful tool in helping to stave off age-related mental decline.
Fresh, Unprocessed Food
Of course, if you are successful in your hunt, you should be using that meat. Most hunters have a deep love and respect for the nature that they spend so much time in and using the meat of your kill is part of that. Outside the respectful, almost spiritual reasoning of this, you’re also benefiting because you’re getting some high-quality meat that you can cook at home. In some cases, it may even be less expensive than what you’d find at the grocery store, especially if you’re processing the meat yourself.
This can give you a greater confidence that the meat you’re eating is healthier.
Whether you are processing the meat or someone you know is, you have a greater quality control because you know exactly what is happening to that meat and what is being done with it. You know if there are any additives being put in and the quality of the meat prior to processing. This can give you a greater confidence that the meat you’re eating is healthier, or at least not made unhealthy with preservatives, fatteners, or raised on hormone-laden feed that many commercially-raised livestock are given.
As we age, our social connections become even more important. The dangers of social isolation and loneliness are very real for millions of seniors, creating both mental and physical health risks. On the flip side, we’ve dug into the benefits of friendship and why it’s so important for seniors before. Having a group of friends and loved ones is critical to continued health as we age.
Hunting in groups can become a powerful bonding activity to combat isolation and loneliness.
Hunting acts as a social anchor point for millions around the country. Hunting camps or trips with likeminded friends can act as a social retreat that you have annually or even more regularly. Hunting in groups can become a powerful bonding activity to combat isolation and loneliness for shorter, single-day hunts. Even swapping hunting stories can give you an opportunity to make new friends or bond over the hobby when you’re not out in the woods. If you don’t know where to start with finding hunting friends, you can join a local hunting club, which host events and provide resources for their members.
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All told, hunting is more than just a way to provide food, and possibly a wall decoration, for your home. It can be a way to stay active, social, and happy throughout your life while spending valuable time out in nature. If you want to gain the benefits of hunting, but don’t want to harm any animals, you can still hunt without that part of it. Many of these benefits are also a part of nature photography and bird-watching, giving you flexible options that you may be more comfortable with.