A topic I tend not to hear or read about very much is the fitness in every-day preparedness. Sure, there are plenty of opinions on gear to carry, the kinds of shoes you should wear, the emergency kit in your car, etc…, but how often if physical fitness mentioned as a component of your preparedness? Not much, sadly.
As we go through our daily lives, 99% of it isn’t a high-stress, threatening situation. Maybe we work out or go to the gym, but we’re not threatened.
If we find ourselves in a survival situation, be it a physical attack, a disaster requiring us to get out of an area, a broken-down car or anything similar, your chances of successfully negotiating that event are raised directly in proportion with your level of fitness. The right gear and training are also factors, of course, but if your body is conditioned you stand a better chance. Here’s why:
- A survival event demands extreme resources from your body. You may be required to fight off an attacker, or run/climb/drag someone/thing intensely for a period of time. How long you’re able to last in that, or how much you can lift may directly impact who you save. Including yourself or a loved one. If you can’t do a pull-up, you may not be able to pull yourself out of a window in a burning building.
- A fit body equals a fit mind. Psychologically, if your body is in-shape, your mind will be better able to focus and adapt during a high-stress event.
- Staying power. As you call your muscles into action to “fight or flight”, you will have a flush of adrenaline and lactic acid in your muscles. It will also metabolize and work off adrenaline and lactic acid buildup created in that process. If you’ve ever gone 100% in a fight or even on a punching bag, you’d know that that level of exertion is brutal even for one minute. If you’re not sucking wind after 1 minute, you’re doing it wrong. But if you build up your muscular and cardiovascular endurance through regular training, you’ll be better able to recover more quickly.
- You can do more. Being fit allows you the capability to do more. Sure, you may have all manner of skills in fighting, but someone with an equal level of skill but higher level of fitness will likely defeat you. Strength, as well as skill, combine to the application of technique against an opponent. If you’re weak, or overweight, you likely won’t be as agile to get out of a bad situation. Your EDC (Every-Day Carry) equipment won’t lift you over a fence when thugs are chasing you.
- Ask yourself this: if you had to, can you pick up your 70lb child and run away from a riot or terrorist attack, or would you have a heart attack in the attempt? I look at worst-case scenarios and work towards being able to address them. I am by no means a Special Forces Operator, nor do I pretend to be, but I do exercise regularly and aim to be prepared for things going south. What is the likelihood of something happening: very low. Impact if it does and I’m unable to do anything about it: very high.
So how does one develop their physical fitness? Here are some ideas:
- Start small & simple. Start walking, or jogging. Biking, swimming. Whatever. Push-ups, squats, sit-ups, chin-ups. Get out there and start. Movement is life. If you find yourself in an Active Shooter situation and you just stand there, you are an easy target.
- Look into joining a class or a gym. If you’re short on cash, look up body-weight and yoga videos online for free and do them in your home. It only costs you time and effort.
- Change your eating habits if they need it. High levels of processed sugars and foods aren’t helping you. Change it up and and just your diet to something better. Small adjustments can yield large improvements.
- Get motivated. Set small goals and accomplish them. Work towards each one until you achieve it and then set the next one. We are all motivated by different things, so find what works and “git ‘er done”.
- Ask for help. If you’re completely lost and don’t know where to turn, ask for advice. I have found that the vast majority of people who are fitness enthusiasts didn’t start out as athletic. Many worked hard to get there and are happy to offer help or advice and cheer you on.
- You can do it. I have seen wounded Veterans without legs, without arms and sometimes both, continue to push themselves and achieve. If they can, then holy shit, so can the rest of us. Stay positive. Stay focused.
***Naturally if you’re not fit the only way to increase fitness is to begin exercising…but always consult a doctor or health professional prior to starting, especially if you have any health concerns.***
We all have our various levels and goals, and no two people are the same. The crux of the argument here is that you are constantly trying to improve. Various body types, health issues, etc, sometimes restrict what can be done, but with a positive attitude, setting of goals and the effort to improve, gains can be made in leaps and bounds. Don’t be afraid to try and fail, keep trying. Ask for help. Its about self-improvement as much as it is personal survival. You don’t have to be a fitness model, or even look like one, but building in a level of fitness training into your preparedness mindset and arsenal will greatly increase your confidence and capability when dealing with a hostile event.
The side benefits also include better sleep, lower levels of stress, less pain, more flexibility and agility. Higher levels of endurance and a heightened level of calm and confidence. You’ll also be able to enjoy more adventurous experiences. Just, saying.
Remember that a good level of physical fitness will never be a negative or work against you, it will only ever be a positive.
Till next time,