Monday, June 15th, 2009...9:02 am

Paintball is Good Exercise

My 12 year old son has been cajoling me for a couple of years to take him paintballing, and yesterday I finally gave in. After 5 hours of paintball play at Splat Tag I can tell you that not only is paintball fun, it is good exercise too. I've played paintball once about 15 years ago, and because of that experience I knew a little about what I was getting into. But man, the first time you rush out to get behind a bunker or a downed tree in the woods, you are reminded how exhausting this really can be. (It didn't help that in the morning I mowed the lawn and pulled a huge bag of weeds. Or that I played 18 holes of golf the day before!)

If you aren't sure what paintball is all about, check out some paintball videos, then do a search in your local community for paintball fields. Since I live out in the country, or at least close to the country, the fields around here are typically on untillable farmland like the woods in between farm fields. They do have indoor paintball fields in the cities or outdoors in small fields strewn with manmade barricades, but for me there is nothing better than playing in full woods. Basically what it is all about is splitting into two teams, getting a gun that fires paint at 300fps, donning protective face mask and playing games like capture the flag. It's pretty intense!

The mix of people yesterday was very interesting - we played in an open game and the skill levels ranged from people like my son and I, who just wore jeans, long shirts and rented our equipment, to absolute fanatics who had full combat armor, high-end equipment and participated in tournaments. One guy was in full SWAT gear including a shin holstered pistol and the car he drove to the game was a used police car. This guy was hard core! I also liked the guy who had a sawed-off shotgun strapped to his back. Regrettably, I never saw him pull it out to shoot but I assume it fired multiple paintballs at once.

The first game we played I stuck close to my son and we stayed pretty far back guarding our base. We moved up a little from our initial position, but really didn't move a lot. But even with that I recognized I was going to be in for a hot, tiring day. As the day went on we got a little more involved in the action and moved around a lot more. The most tiring moment for me was when I got pinned behind a tree and then shot from my flank, and once you get shot you need to walk off the field. Instead of going back down the path I came from I took another path that sent me up a VERY long and steep hill, and I was really breathing hard when I got to the top. The facemask made it even harder to breath, and you can't take it off while on the field so I had a long walk where I was huffing and puffing until I could get to safety.

I don't know that this is something I'll be doing a lot (although my son may force the issue as he really enjoyed it) but it really was fun and working up a sweat in any way is good. Looking to mix up your fitness routine? Maybe try shooting a little paint at someone!

Contest update: As of today 31 people have entered with a total of 71 entries. Still not too late to get in! With 7 prizes up for grabs you still have good odds of winning a prize, and remember, the top three prizes are cash. One thing I have learned in hosting this contest is that there are a LOT of blogs that do nothing but post about blog contests, so the vast majority of entrants are those kind, which is kind of a bummer - next time I have a contest I'll be sure to limit it to weight loss bloggers only. So if you have a weight loss blog be sure to enter so we increase the odds of an actual reader winning!

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