Physical Fitness and Survival: Why Your Body Needs Recovery Time


We often focus on tasks to do: physical exercise, and numerous physically-demanding work, such as woodcutting, building, gardening, snow removal, and so forth.  I have written in several pieces about the importance of recovery, but I am emphasizing it here in-depth.  Most people are so busy in the course of the day that they neglect to take the time to physically recover from what they have done…and recover properly.

Your Body’s Recovery is Important

Such a recovery means more than just simple rest.  It entails nutrition and understanding how the human body’s physiology works.  As I have stressed in the past, your protein intake is critical to tissue repair.  I also emphasized how you must take in protein and carbohydrates within a ½ hour at the conclusion of demanding physical exercise that lasts one hour or more.  You may also have to increase that protein/carbohydrate intake more frequently.

If you have worked a physically-demanding occupation, you may have a good basis for understanding already of these concepts and it may just be a matter of touching upon some of the finer points.  Construction workers put in 8, 10, or 12 hour days with only a couple of short breaks and a lunch break in the middle.  A tremendous amount of hydration is required during their day.  Your muscles are 80% water.  Stands to reason that dehydration means a loss of muscle tissue.

Remember glycogen that I mentioned in earlier articles?  When you work hard physically or exercise, glycogen is converted into glucose to fuel your body.  This is taken directly from stores in your body.  After that glycogen is depleted and you’ve “hit the wall,” then your body will break down its own proteins in the form of muscle tissue and converts those proteins to glycogen.  For every half hour of extra physical labor you perform without replacing lost glycogen, protein, and carbs, your body will take 5-6 grams of proteins from out of your muscles to do the job.  That is referred to as “cannibalism,” which is where the body “eats” its own proteins in order to compensate for loss or deficiencies.

What does that mean to you?  Knowing this, you must continually replace those substances in the form of food and water as you work periodically.  Then when the work is completed, you must nourish yourself fully and get the proper amount of rest you need.  A high-quality protein powder is worth its weight in gold in this manner.  It is simple to use and quick as well.  You can expect to spend about 75 cents to a dollar on a serving, but it goes right to your cells and starts the repairs on the cellular level.

Rest is Key

When you’re done with the work (which is a workout, as I’ve mentioned previously), you need to head first to the chow hall and then to the couch.  Sleep is very important.  One of the things I do is to take a shake about a ½ hour before bedtime, and my evening vitamins as well.  While you’re sleeping, your body metabolizes the nutrients more slowly, and the “uptake” is better as you’re resting.  If your work is not going to take the entire day, then try to break it up and give yourself an hour of lunch and another hour to just relax.

A day of complete rest during the week will help you to “reset” everything and to jump back up on the grinding wheel just that stronger and more invigorated.  It’s a matter of time management and knowing when to divide the time between labor and the recovery that you need.  It will take some practice, but you can help yourself out in a few ways:

  1. Always have a good supply of drinking water on hand that you can partake often. Remember: Thirst is a late sign of dehydration, and you need to consume (on average) about a gallon of water per day.
  2. Take sandwich bags and measure off a scoop/serving of your protein powder. Then throw it in the jar later with your milk and mix it up…keep your milk/fluid in a cooler where you can get it and employ it quickly.
  3. Keep batches of good snacks on hand: sunflower seeds, beef jerky, fruit (fresh or dried), nuts, and so on to help give you those quick bursts of food and energy to carry you through.
  4. Supplements: I use ginseng and Vitamin E throughout the day (see my articles on both), as well as other supplements and vitamins.
  5. Nervines: for the evening…tea of chamomile, catnip, or peppermint to relax you. I also recommend Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) to help your sleep be more full.

Your body is a machine that you have to maintain.  Rest and recovery are just as important as the work you’ll be performing.  If you plan your recovery time, it gives you something to shoot for, a goal to look forward to at the end of the day.  It is all about discipline and maintenance.  Take the time to get into a good routine for yourself in everything you do and it’ll take the guesswork out of it.  Stay in that good fight!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published February 10th, 2018
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2 Responses to Physical Fitness and Survival: Why Your Body Needs Recovery Time

  1. No doubt good rest is a very big issue and most people not get good healing rest for all the wrong reasons. Also you touched on Ketosis but did not explain that it can in fact be used as a tool in your favor to build a fit and strong body. Just as understanding how to balance ones metabolism and endocrine system are critical components of fitness, health and overall well being.

    Too many people complicate it all and there are really only a very few components in all of it. The main component is our mindset and how we approach it all and think about our health and fitness. They are the same thing, you cannot have one without the other when all is said and done. That is how we heal our self with that simple understanding and utilizing KISS.

    How many people in USA embrace sweating as a very good thing and very healthy practice ?

  2. IM Sayldog says:

    Thanks JJ. As an older guy who last year took up loop/section hiking I can relate to what you are saying in ways I couldn’t even when working those long hard days of my youth (and partying every night). Last year’s long trails with lots of elevation changes would wipe me out in half a day. I found I have to force myself to eat and drink. This year I plan on taking an extended mid-day break, even a nap, and then look to churn out a good afternoon’s worth of trail before setting up camp for the night.

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