I know for many of us “exercise” and “fitness” are words we use with a slight grimace. Ever since having a baby, I’ve found these are usually at the bottom of my to-do list, but they really shouldn’t be. Not only is it important in general to lead a healthy life, but doing so could potentially be the key to your survival in an emergency.
Your overall health and fitness is important in an emergency because you’ll need strength and energy to complete tasks—like carrying a heavy pack for miles or building a shelter—that can help you survive. It’s as equally important to prepare your body as it is to prepare your supplies for an emergency.
In our earlier blog post Baby Steps: Creating a Survival Fitness Regime, we talked about assessing your current health situation and improving fitness through stamina, strength, and endurance training. To build off of this idea, here are a few specific exercises you can do at home to improve your health in these areas.
Yes, this is a good ol’ standby, but it’s important for cardiovascular health. Runner’s World has a great 8-week program where the end-goal for its participants is to run 30 minutes (about 2 miles) at a slow, relaxed pace.
The great thing is that it begins with more walking than running, so it’s a good place to start for absolute beginners (and you can always repeat a week if you feel like you’re not ready for the next one!). Once you get to the end of the 8-week program, it will be easy to set new interval goals until you reach your desired level of running/walking stamina, which could be important if you have to evacuate on foot carrying survival gear.
Target Strength Exercises to do At Home
Weight training is often the ideal way to build strength, but sometimes we don’t have access to equipment, or maybe we can’t find the time to do a prolonged workout. Here are some targeted strength exercises that are easy to do at home (although some may require small hand-held dumbbells or other at-home equipment):
Strengthening your core will help you achieve other fitness goals, and will improve your overall balance in an emergency situation. Push-ups and Sit-ups are usually the go-tos, but here are six different exercises from Real Simple that you can do to tone your core with a 15-minute workout, three to four times a week.
Legs often provide the power to move and lift heavy objects, which could be useful and necessary in an emergency situation. Here are 18 at-home exercises from Health.com to strengthen these areas.
Arms and shoulders are also important in emergency situations where you will often be carrying, lifting, and building. Here are arm strengthening exercises from Fitness magazine.
Having a strong back will help keep you injury-free, especially when lifting heavy objects in an emergency. Here are four back-strengthening exercises from Real Simple to give your core that extra stability.
To increase stamina and endurance, it’s important to gradually increase the intensity level of your workout whether this means increasing weight, length, or repetitions it’s important to continue improving so your body doesn’t plateau, and so that you don’t become bored with your routine!
Other tips to improve fitness:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay hydrated
- Choose activities that you love to stay active
- Stay active during the day and get plenty of rest at night
- Involve others in your fitness goals
It’s always great to feel like you’re in shape and ready for whatever comes. Don’t neglect your health as an important element of emergency preparedness. When you’re sand bagging your property or evacuating on foot with your emergency kit, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
What have you done to improve your fitness for a survival situation? What specific exercises or routines have worked for you?