If you had to carry your loaded 20 pound bug out bag and get the heck out of Dodge on foot, how would you fare? What if you had to carry your sleeping child over the mountains in order to evacuate?
If the proverbial S hits the F, we will see a lot of serious injuries, and even deaths, from people making unaccustomed physical demands on their bodies. A lot of us are going to be using muscles we forgot we had. Our bodies will be under enormous cardiovascular stress. On top of the mental stress we will undergo, the physical stress will very likely kick our butts.
Prepping with food and medical supplies is not enough. A good mental attitude is not sufficient. We have to prep our bodies too.
Moreover, your entire family should begin a fitness program to train their minds and bodies for emergencies as well. A family or group is only as strong as their weakest link. You want a strong group that is physically equipped to handle the demands that an emergency situation may place on them.
*Disclaimer: Before starting this or any other exercise program, consult your physician.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You did not get out of shape over night and you won’t get back into shape over night either. If you start off too gung-ho, you risk injury or muscles so sore that you will quit after one or two workouts. You have to listen to your body and locate that fine line between “Okay, that’s all I’ve got” and “If I stop exercising now, I could go lay on the couch with a cold drink, wow, that sounds nice!”
The three facets of fitness are cardio, strength and flexibility. All three are important in a SHTF scenario and for general fitness and wellness. Start gently and work your way up.
Cardiovascular fitness might also be called “endurance.” It is the ability of your heart to supply oxygen to your body while you are under physical strain. Cardio is important in many scenarios:
- In a bug-out situation, you may have to evacuate on foot over rough terrain.
- When chopping wood you are swinging an axe over and over for an extended period of time.
- When hunting, you may have to hike through the woods dragging your kill behind you.
- In a battle situation, you may need to run for cover (or even run away!)
- In a flood you may need to haul sandbags to build a wall.
To build your cardiovascular fitness, start out simple. You don’t need an expensive membership to a gym. Just lace up your shoes and start walking. I live in a medium sized city and I attempt to incorporate walking into my day by doing as many errands as I can on foot. I also specifically walk for fitness, plugging into my Ipod and bringing along my dog. As your fitness increases, look for more challenging routes with hills. Walking or hiking off road is more of a challenge because of uneven terrain. Finally, you can add a loaded pack for some resistance.
Strength is also known as muscular fitness. It refers to the ability to lift, pull, drag or push. Muscular fitness can come into play in many ways in a SHTF scenario:
- When bugging out you’ll likely be carrying a heavy pack while traversing difficult terrain.
- If you are farming, you will be plowing and tilling, as well as carrying supplies like manure and other fertilizers.
- Chopping wood is not just cardiovascular – it requires strength too.
- If a family member is injured, you may end up carrying or supporting them.
To build your strength, you can start out with simple body-weight exercises. Push-ups, crunches, lunges, and squats will increase your strength. Once you have developed a cardiovascular base, do a training walk at least twice a week. Start off with an extra 10-20 pounds in your pack and work your way up from there until you can walk with a 50 pound backpack. At-home programs like P-90x and Insanity are also great for strength training. Whatever you choose, keep doing it and keep increasing your resistance.
Flexibility is the most neglected part of many fitness routines. Flexibility allows you to perform physical activities without becoming injured. The training stretches your muscles and makes them more pliable and less susceptible to injury.
Yoga is a great way to become more flexible. A yoga DVD or website can walk you through some simple stretches and the routine will soon become a pleasant activity that you look forward to – it simply feels good! I find that my entire day is off if I don’t start out with my 15 minute routine every morning. If you aren’t a fan of yoga, basic track and field stretches will net you the same results. If you only stretch for 10 minutes per day, you will notice increased flexibility within two short weeks.
Beginner Prepper Fitness Program
Monday: Stretching 10 minutes, Moderate walk, Strength
Tuesday: Stretching 10 minutes, Moderate walk
Wednesday: Stretching 10 minutes, Training walk with weight
Thursday: Stretching 10 minutes, Moderate walk
Friday: Stretching 10 minutes, Moderate walk, Strength
Saturday: Stretching 10 minutes, Training walk with weight
As Anatole France once said, “To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” This may sound like a lot, but remember that physical fitness is a prep that is equally as important as a supply of beans, bullets and band-aids. We must work longer and harder at preparing our bodies for being ready to respond quickly and efficiently to short and long-term emergencies. Being more fit will prevent injuries and allow you to take care of business in an emergency situation, without having to sit down and take a breather.