No matter who you are, an exercise and fitness regime will improve your well being. Research has shown that regular exercise invigorates metabolism, improves circulation, lengthens life expectancy, and boosts endorphin production (biochemicals in our bodies that help make us feel happy). Studies also show that people who regularly work out are generally more confident and more focused compared to people who don't exercise. Adding regular exercise to your life will help you no matter who you are.
Those who are prepper minded have an additional reason to pursue fitness. In addition to making us healthier all around, exercise makes us better able to respond to an emergency. When responding to an emergency, we might be called upon to do some very physically intensive tasks. When your physical ability during an emergency counts, you don't want to come up short.
If your car breaks down on the side of the highway and help is not readily available, you might have to grab your stuff and walk/hike to where there is help. If you are attacked by a mugger, you might have to run away or stand and fight. If your neighborhood's power goes down in a blizzard, you might have to cut a ton of firewood to stay warm (and haul all that wood to where it can be burned). There are countless instances during a possible emergency that may require physical exertion. In these circumstances, your fitness may very well determine your survival and your ability to help your loved ones survive.
The key thing is that any working out is better than no working out. A lot of people never get started on a workout regime because they feel they don't have time or are not sure how to get started. Others might be embarrassed about how little they know about working out and are worried about doing something wrong or seeming foolish. Some might even be hesitant to start working out because of a perfectionist fear that if they can't "do it right" they would rather not do it at all. At such times as these, remember that even a little bit of exercise is miles ahead of nothing.
You won't win any world titles by doing ten push ups a day, but you will be stronger than if you did zero push ups a day. Going for a walk in the mornings won't make you an Olympic athlete, but it will make you more able-bodied than if you stay on the couch all day. Working out once a month will make you stronger than not working out at all. If you want to know where to start, start somewhere and stick to it.
A few safety considerations before starting to work out. If you have any health issues that might affect your ability to work out, please consult a healthcare professional before working out. If you have a heart condition, diabetes, a recent injury or surgery, you should consult your healthcare provider before working out.
Starting slow is the main idea. Even if you otherwise have a good state of health, if you are not used to working out you should start slow. When we were children, we crawled before walked, and we walked before we ran. The same applies here. Ease your way into working out to avoid injury and excessive soreness from unfamiliar movements.
As you advance in your training, always pay attention to proper posture and technique. Training with poor posture and poor technique can result in injury. Don't worry, proper technique is easy to get down - it just takes a few moments of mindfulness. Especially when starting out, it wouldn't hurt to consult someone with some experience to help you get started.
Areas of Focus
Here are a few fundamental areas of fitness to focus on as you begin your training. These do not appear in any particular order since all three are equally important to building a more functional and fit body. A good fitness and exercise regime will include all of these areas of training.
Strenth: Strength training involves conditioning your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones so that you can lift heavier things, run faster, and hit harder. This type of training involves short periods of high effort. Examples of strength training exercises include push ups, crunches, dumbell rows, sprinting, squats, deadlifts, etc.
Some examples of the practical application of strength conditioning for preppers are as follows: carrying heavy packs, lifting someone who is injured and cannot move, clearing heavy debris, running away from a danger, and fighting in hand to hand combat. Again, the point of strength training is to be able to lift more, hit harder, and move faster.
Cardio: In cardio training, the objective is to condition the heart, lungs, and circulatory system to work under load for an extended period of time. Common examples of cardio training are running, bicycling, stair climbing, jumping rope, and rowing. Other muscle groups are used, but the goal is to strengthen and increase the endurance of the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, and circulatory system).
Cardio can be helpful to preppers in the following ways: being able to hike for many miles without stopping, being able to cut and process a high volume of wood without stopping, remaining in a fight/self-defense situation for an extended period of time, having to do physical labor for an hour or more. Having a strong heart and lungs keeps the prepper in the game longer and increases his or her chances of survival.
Flexibility: Flexibility is one of the most under-appreciated areas of fitness. Training flexibility involves increasing the range of motion and robustness of our joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Though not as flashy as the other areas of fitness, flexibility is just as essential to your overall fitness as is Strength and Cardio. Yoga, dance, gymnastics, and good old fashioned stretching a few common activities that train flexibility.
The most important benefit of flexibility training is that it prevents injury. If you have limber joints with a fuller range of motion, then you will be less likely to pull a muscle or experience tightness in your movements. Flexibility training also improves circulation and muscular endurance. Muscles that are looser and more relaxed will take longer to feel tight or overworked. Knowing how to stretch muscles and tendons will also help your body recover faster if you become sore or injured.
Putting It All Together
To recap, any exercise is better than no exercise, and combine the main three areas of training when making a workout plan. Finding the time to workout in our modern day lives can be tough. As a family man with a wife, a kid, a dog, and a full time job, I know how hard it can be to balance other parts of life with working out. You just have to find what works best for you in terms of getting something in. Everyone's schedules are different, so you have to find what works best for you.
Let's say you find that you have fifteen minutes that you can devote to working out every morning. That's great! Maybe you could run for fifteen minutes one day (cardio), and then do body weight exercises the next day for fifteen minutes (strength), and then the third day spend fifteen minutes doing a thorough stretching routine (flexibility). Even though fifteen minutes isn't a ton of time, if you stick to this regime for a few weeks, you'll be surprised at how much more vital and good you'll feel as opposed to not working out at all.
Maybe you are just getting started out and your schedule only allows you to workout once a week. No worries. Try to hit all the areas in one day. If you are starting from square one, try walking for twenty minutes, stretching for ten minutes, and then doing body weight exercises for thirty minutes. Doing that once a week every week will also produce great results after a few weeks of consistent effort.
Have Fun With It!
Working out should be playful and fun. Too many times, we approach working out as something we "have to do" because our doctor told us to or we feel guilty not doing it. This attitude can make exercising feel like a chore which only adds to the already negative feeling we might have about not being confident with how we look or perform while working out. Well I'm here to to tell you not to worry about all that.
What does a young child or a puppy do when they walk onto an open field? They run into it! What does a young child or puppy do when they encounter a ditch ledge? They try to jump or vault over it! That's because moving fast and using your body to move through this world is fun. It's something that we all know as young children but seem to forget as we get older and our overly logical mind conditioned from societal norms takes over. Having an attitude of playing instead of doing a chore will greatly help your endeavors as you begin working out.
When I first started working out, I joined a gym and learned from a friend of mine who was an assistant coach to the local college's track and field team. The gym was attended by many young and athletic men and women. I felt extremely self-conscious and embarrassed while at the gym for my whole first year! Thoughts like "I'm the weakest guy here," and "I'm a grown man who struggles to lift heavy weight," and "everyone here probably thinks I'm a loser," would constantly go through my head. I know first hand how intimidating it is to start working out, because I personally struggled to begin my workout regime even though I had the support of an amazing friend.
It wasn't until later that I realized that the really fit people at the gym weren't judging me at all. In fact, they were cheering me on! No one is born with a dumbbell in their had or running shorts on their waist. All those gorgeous looking people in the gym also at one time felt as feeble and ineffective as I did when I started working out. They had to use great perseverance and discipline to get to where they are now. True athletes are cheered to see new beginners getting in the mix. The only thing a beginner can do that will incite judgement is quitting. Have a good attitude and don't quit!
Emergencies require a physical response. A strong body is necessary for a strong physical response. The virtuous prepper will train his or her body so that he or she can better survive a dangerous emergency and better help loved ones survive as well. Many emergencies come out of the blue with no warning at all. Train today to better survive what ever tomorrow may bring.