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  1. We share an appreciation for outdoor recreation. Whether you're a hardcore four-wheeler, quad or side-by-side rider, dirt motorcyclist or avid outdoor recreationalist who hikes trails or plies waterways in a kayak or canoe, a fundamental requirement is physical fitness. Lack of fitness leads to injuries that can end your favorite pursuits. This forum provides the space and a platform for sharing health and fitness experiences while inspiring each other to be healthier and more physically fit! A common misconception has crept into the outdoor community in recent decades. Many believe that lack of fitness simply means turning to another kind of vehicle for our motorized recreation. This can take the form of abandoning dirt motorcycling and buying a quad or side-by-side. Or maybe selling the quad and buying a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4x4. In either case, it's assumed that the new vehicle type will be less demanding physically and allow continued access to outdoor recreation. Note: I can fully subscribe to this if an individual has severe impairment; however, I would also draw attention to guys like Jake Munoz, Jesse Williamson, Chris Ridgway and Fred Meyling. Jake has been through seven major spinal surgeries and drives the Rubicon Trail in his heavily modified flatfender Jeep CJ. Jesse Williamson is the first double amputee U.S. combat vet to compete in the Baja 1000 on a dirt motorcycle, and Jesse has now raced the 2013 Baja 1000, the 2014 Baja 500 and the 2014 Baja 1000 on the Warrior Built team with 1st Sgt. Nick Hamm and other combat vet riders. Fred Meyling, a career Army officer, is now paraplegic. He has driven on the Rubicon Trail in a Jeep 4x4. Jake Munoz talks about the imperative need to rehabilitate with physical training in our interview at the magazine. Jake's exercise regimen is phenomenal and an inspiration to anyone rehabilitating from injuries or a surgery. Another example is the modern outdoorsman/hunter paradigm where the use of a 4x4, quad or side-by-side has taken the place of traditional on-foot or horse packing hunts. When I was a bit younger, a day's mule deer hunt could be a hike of 6-8 miles in rugged, mountainous terrain with my lever action .30 caliber Winchester long rifle (open semi-buckhorn sights) in hand. Today, many hunters boast of walking less than 50 yards from their winch equipped quad or side-by-side to a downed animal. This has many implications, but for the purpose of this forum, I'll stick to the matter of physical fitness. Also overlooked is the fact that lack of physical conditioning is dangerous. An out of shape recreationalist crawling the Rubicon Trail in a 4x4 or the unconditioned urbanite from sea level hunting elk at 12,000 feet in the Rockies is at extreme risk. If the quad, side-by-side or 4x4 becomes stuck or breaks down, stacking rocks or walking back to the nearest paved road could prove deadly. I've been an active member of the 4x4 community for over a half century now. I'm also an avid outdoorsperson and physical fitness advocate. One observation worth sharing is that an out of condition four-wheeler is at risk under the best of circumstances, and anyone is vulnerable here. The annual Easter Jeep Safari at Moab provides an excellent metaphor. Without muscle tone, knocking around on the rocks in the best equipped 4x4 can be brutal on the spine, kidneys and other vital organs. If core and other muscles are weak and lax (with characteristic omentum girth hanging over one's belt), bouncing around all day in a 4x4 or quad can cause internal organ, spinal and skeletal distress or damage. One of the best means for preventing a "bad back" is building a strong set of core muscles. Cardio-vascular fitness is also paramount, especially when traveling from low elevations to high altitude recreation. Years ago, I guided a media launch over Imogene Pass in 4WD Geo Trackers for Chevrolet. As we approached the summit of nearly 14,000 feet, a Seattle-based colleague became cyanotic. Though summertime, he characterized his symptoms as "the flu". I spotted the blue lips and lightheadedness immediately as "altitude sickness" and quickly got the group to Telluride before driving my fellow journalist to Farmington, New Mexico where enough atmosphere and oxygen led to his full recovery. (This was a judgment call, the alternative was a trip to the Telluride hospital's emergency room.) Dehydration and genetic factors play a large role with altitude sickness, and a period of acclimatizing does help here. However, this was an individual whose most strenuous activity was getting in and out of a Geo Tracker to take photos, and he had lapsed into a severely threatening health state. There is also the case of overdoing exercise. One of my brothers-in-law has an expression that aptly applies to his fitness level and penchant for outdoor pursuits. An avid bow hunter, he refers to his zealous gym time on the elliptical machine as "an 18-year-old brain in a 66-year-old body!" This has led to a forthcoming knee replacement following an athletic and physical life that included many years of pounding asphalt with running shoes to maintain his cardio fitness. There are limits and the need for balance here. I have a major incentive for staying physically fit that my wife would likely characterize in my brother-in-laws terms. (Actually, he's a year older than I am.) My metaphor for staying fit is the Honda XR650R dirt motorcycle and vintage '84 XR350R. Each bike demands physical fitness. While riding dirt motorcycles in the desert or on rocky trials-like terrain is highly physical and constantly works the five major muscle groups, this cannot be my sole exercise regimen. In fact, after a long period of inconsistent exercise, I went to the gym faithfully for four months before returning to dirt motorcycling. The best way to avoid injury in any athletic or outdoor recreational pursuit is physical conditioning. I'll gladly share my lifetime routine and commitment to reasonable physical conditioning and nutrition. None of us is exempt from the negative impact of poor conditioning or nutrition. Despite this, each of us has gone through periods of neglect and even avoidance of exercise and proper nutrition. Some of the health and fitness commitment is aspiration, some inspiration, and ultimately the resolution is consistent perspiration...Considering our growing number of forums members, we should be able to build an impressive information base from our conditioning and nutritional experiences. It begins right here! Moses
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