One of the real, make-or-break aspects of preparation can’t be packed away on a basement shelf or tucked inside of the bug-out bag. Health and fitness truly serve as a person’s greatest assets. Getting through the aftermath of a disaster requires being in decent shape and in good overall health. There’s no way around it.
The best laid, most detailed plans and supporting contingencies could tumble quickly if you lack strength or are battling weight issues or chronic health conditions. It’s not an easy truth to account for in an era where it’s more common than not for people to wear a few extra pounds.
Preparing your body
Preparedness; however, isn’t about glossing over the uncomfortable facts. Statistics clearly show those in decent physical shape have become the minority. Far too many, meanwhile, have fallen from average to the lower end of the scale and are managing their ways through poor health.
Those concerned about preparedness should hold real concern about their physical well-being and make appropriate changes to their lifestyles if necessary. It is just another part of preparation. It should be just as much a part of your plan as long-term food storage or assembling a well-stocked go-bag.
Society at large lives from the drive-through windows to a dangerous extent. Aside from those starchy, nutrient-void, deep-fried potatoes that come in the combo meals, it isn’t uncommon for some people to go for days on end without getting a single vegetable or fruit into their bodies.
Stovetops and ovens better used for real foods get far less use than the reliable microwaves that make quick work of the heavily processed goods. There’s another danger at play. As time moved on, our portion sizes somehow grew larger and larger.
It would be eye-opening for many to look at recommended, healthy calorie intakes, then sit down and tabulate what they’re actually putting into their bodies every day. Most Americans are eating far too much.
Far too few realize it. It’s been a widespread and troublesome change. Those heading to the stores today to buy new sets of plates are typically getting sets of dishes that are quite larger than the pieces their mothers and grandmothers had stacked up in their cupboards. Compare one of their dinner plates to the comparable piece in the China cabinet. It might be eye-opening.
It extends beyond the home. Many restaurants today satisfy their customers with gigantic portions of poor foods rather than smaller, reasonable portions of fresh, local, and healthy selections. There are a number of resources that are quickly available that offer solid information toward developing healthy and workable diet plans.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently updated its dietary guidelines, which for a long time were represented by the food pyramid. Recommended food quantities vary for different people based on their varying daily caloric needs.
Regardless of quantities, it provides a pretty good road map toward understanding what people should be eating. Relying on common sense and honesty about your poor personal habits provides a great start at getting an appropriate diet in place.
Those who recognize preparedness as a practice in self-reliance should look at their required daily prescription doses and ask themselves just much they can truly rely on themselves. Medicine does some pretty amazing things.
In a survival situation, that might all go out the window. Doctors are often reluctant to provide patients with any extra doses of medication to pack away for the event of an emergency. It’s understandable when considering expiration dates.
Medicines are regulated for a variety of reasons. Some might occasionally find doctors who would oblige extra, packaway bottles of the prescription medications they depend upon after explaining their preparedness planning. Some doctors might offer up some samples that could be tucked away in the go-bag. All of that effort might still go for naught.
If that’s the best-case option, an extra 30 days’ worth of medicines might not suffice, depending on the nature of ailments and the severity of the disaster situation. It all comes back to thinking ahead. It’s tough to imagine the helplessness of having a terrible heart condition and just a day’s worth of doses left in the pillbox. Many have diabetes and depend on daily insulin injections.
Those with any serious ailments could find themselves in unenviable positions when all of the pharmacies within reasonable distance are dark, locked up, or have an empty inventory. Medicines are vital to many, and those with strict reliance could face imminent danger in a crisis. The wise decision for those who haven’t reached the point of chronic ailments is to put forth some effort in the immediate term. Proper effort and attitude might well allow you to avoid a frightening set of circumstances later.
Should a crisis hit, those in its aftermath would need the ability to endure significant physical challenges that are certain to stand in the way of a family’s recovery. Without a doubt, it would require some walking and the potential for significant distances.
Also, it would require lifting, and sometimes, it might even require some climbing. As you can imagine, each of those tasks would certainly require some strength and a decent amount of endurance. Those who lack these attributes should concentrate on building up those “supplies” just as they would any others.
Duty will call regardless of your aerobic capacity. Think about a hypothetical, severe thunderstorm packing high winds that rips through and topples the old oak tree in the backyard. You might lose power for a few hours. The electricity might continue to flow uninterrupted. The mess of branches might damage the fence.
You should stop and think about whether you have the strength and endurance to get that tree chopped up and out of the way in a timely fashion. After that wood is hauled off, you’d still have the task of making those fence repairs. Many today can’t do it.
Moving through a disaster means a lot of real hard, exerting, “get your hands dirty,” physical work. Depending on the nature of that disaster, it could mean a great deal of physical exertion through an extended period of time. The only solution is to get ready while you still can.
Those in the worst of shape should take a moment to think about what they could possibly do if their very survival left no choice but go another 10 or 15 miles beyond the first-mile marker. If it’s frightening to some, it should be. They’d be in a helpless position after an emergency. It’s a recognition that it’s long past time to buckle down and get to work.
Those working through a survival scenario or disaster recovery would soon come to realize that efforts aren’t a matter of physical strength on some occasions and stamina on others. Even more, both efforts would often come to play at the same time.
The bug-out bag provides an example. In my case, the bug-out bag has a diverse assortment of items addressing shelter, water, and food, totaling a weight of more than 40 pounds. For most folks out there, that doesn’t sound like all that much, and honestly, it isn’t a big deal to hoist it up and put over the shoulder.
However, 40 pounds while standing in place feels different than carrying 40 pounds while on the move. That apparently light bag feels far heavier after that first mile. The stress on your body will only increase with every step forward.
A survival situation might require a 15-mile or longer walk with a fully loaded pack on the back. If the family includes a young child or two, there’s a good chance those youngsters will be carried for decent portions of the trek. It’ll take some strength. It’ll take some stamina.
The fit crowd likes to say that pain is what happens when weakness leaves the body. There’s a good bit of truth there. The importance of maintaining your fitness when considered from the place of survival or disaster goes beyond the immediate tasks. Troubles wouldn’t disappear in a day. Fitness, therefore also speaks to how you would handle the next day and those to follow.
There’s no leeway to take a day off to give the muscles a little more time for recovery after a good, long bout of strenuous activity. The challenges aren’t going to lie in wait until those tackling soreness are healed up and ready for the next round.
Building cardiovascular health is the main task for those that wish to stay fit. As a very basic measure, anyone in their 40s or 50s should still be able to walk 5 to 10 miles without much of a struggle. People in that age group who aren’t there should make a point to get moving. They should try a brisk walk or jog on a regular basis. You should always go a bit further than comfortable and allow the body to build.
A person will still get the same benefits from 10 minutes of aerobic activity at several points throughout the day as finishing a workout all at once. There are plenty of options out there to get those minutes in.
Gyms are great resources that provide any number of means for people to get that exercise. With that option, there’s often good access to good advice from professionals on how to make the best and quickest strides to fitness goals. Some aren’t willing to spend the membership fees. Others can’t imagine getting any enjoyment out of spending a monotonous hour on the treadmill.
Those who aren’t sold on the gym option can find any number of great means to get a workout. Some wouldn’t cost more than the price of a decent pair of walking or running shoes.
The most important pieces of workout equipment are your own two feet.
It helps to have a good pair of shoes. You might not have a gym membership, but you might have a nearby hill. That alone could be enough to get you from round to lean with the right effort.
Walk up. Jog down. Repeat. When the workload becomes easier, you might jog both ways. Trails are a great bet. They offer scenery but also give you shifts in elevation and all of the bumps and crevices that could lead to blisters and all types of soreness for those who aren’t accustomed. It’s a smart plan to get the body acclimated early to the rougher stuff that Mother Nature presents. With that model in mind, a good endurance test might be that nearby, public trail.
How far can you go with your pack before physically crapping out? It’s a key number to know when travel planning during a disaster. Take a pack, head out for 20 miles one day and then sleep the night before heading back in the other direction. You could note how you feel and use that as a gauge to determine whether your fitness level is appropriate when placed against your preparedness plan.
Exercise is another area in which I try to live my preparations. I often try to get some of my exercises in means that add to my skill base for use in an emergency. I regularly chop and split wood. It provides a great workout, but I’m also practicing and know I’m firm in my techniques. Readying wood for a fire after a disaster wouldn’t provide for any major challenge or frustrations because it’s already part of how I live.