It is a rare task that actually helps you stay healthy. If you spend your days chained to a desk, you might dream of working in the countryside to improve the physical work of farming. Put an end to this because agriculture has been increasingly mechanized – so much so that the industry publication Farmers Weekly launched the British Fittest Farmer Competition earlier this year to highlight the need for farmers to take their time, to focus on their physical health and well-being.
The winners of the contest – Somerset Fiona Penfold and Orkney Sean Cursiter – completed five physical challenges and then conducted an interview with judges involved in mental health. Both quickly showed the connection between physical activity and mental health ̵
"Sitting on a tractor all day is no better than sitting at a desk in an office," says Penfold. "To have a healthier mind, you have to train something. I think the peasants' mental health has deteriorated as the physical part of their work gradually decreases. "
Agriculture can also be an isolating profession, especially in the Orkney Islands, where winter days are short.
On Orkney, there are many farmers with 80 cows who live a lonely life – they may not see another human for weeks, "says Cursiter, who strives to play with Orkney's first team rugby.
The day is 24 hours, so you have to give yourself one, "says Cursiter. "It's good to have a hobby and I do not think my sport is having a negative impact on the business.
" I've just come out of the lamb and work 16-hour days. You're beaten, but if you have time for a bit of exercise, it will fuel you up and distract your mind from the things on the farm. "
You can see video highlights of the finale on YouTube, and if so, if you feel like doing the physical tests Penfold and Cursiter did, you'll find them below. Fair Warning: To accurately replicate the challenges that hay bales and other farm-specific devices require, you do everything to replace them with standard fitness equipment if you do not want to explain to a farmer why you're running around throwing away the hay bales without permission.
Round 1: Fast Sand
Wear five sandbags with increasing weight of 10 meters to be loaded onto a hay bale. Once the last sand bag is loaded, jump over three bales and remove the flag from a fourth bale to stop the timer.
Round 2: On the Fields
Start with 30 chest-to-ground burps and then sprint 400m off-road (a self-propelled treadmill is a good substitute if your gym has one). Then get on an Assault bike and burn 60 calories (men) or 40 calories (women) as fast as you can before tackling another 400-meter off-road sprint.
Round 3: Work for Farmers
This round begins with five deadlifts with a safety bar, followed by a 100-meter walk, a 100-meter tire resistance, and a 15-meter round-ball impact (for the last two exercises use a Prowler sled in the gym).
Lap 4: Tire Change
Start with 20 weight plate lifts, using 15 kg for women and 20 kg for men. Then burn 30 calories on a SkiErg machine as fast as possible and then turn a tire around 20 meters away. After each turn, jump on the lip of the tire. Finally take a grain sack and wear it 20 m.
Round 5: Graining and Graining
The grand finale is the simplest, but probably the most difficult. Hold a weighted cereal shovel in each hand and lift your arms sideways for as long as possible.
Photos: © Colin Miller / RBI