Physical Fitness: One of your Top Preparedness Considerations

Article after article has been written on survival gear, evacuation planning, and nearly any survival topic you can think of, but something I rarely see mentioned is physical fitness. Yet, physical fitness is probably one of the most overlooked but vitally important considerations when planning to survive most crisis situations.

If you consider yourself prepared to survive but fail to maintain your fitness level, you may be in for a huge shock when confronted with a crisis -possibly a very deadly one.

During most disasters, both your physical and mental abilities are going to be taxed far beyond anything you probably experience on a daily basis. So if you’re not in shape, survival will be much harder than you think – even if you have a home full of fancy gear and supplies.

Why physical fitness is so important to your survival:

  • Some disasters may require you to evacuate by foot. Carrying a bag full of supplies or tired children will quickly become a challenge if you’re not prepared to face that type of strenuous activity.
  • Stress will take its toll. A crisis can be incredibly draining, not only mentally but physically as well. To be able to respond to a stressful survival situation, you need to keep your body in top physical shape.
  • Your life and your family’s life depend on your physical fitness and your ability to perform under harsh strenuous conditions.

Analyzing your level of fitness

fat guy with beer on the couch

If your physical fitness doesn’t go beyond getting up to grab that cold beer out of the refrigerator on your way back to the couch, you need to rethink your actual level of preparedness.

Even if you consider yourself to be relatively fit, our modern-day lifestyle doesn’t require most people to maintain a high level of physical activity throughout the day – especially those who sit behind a computer. Because of that, most people simply aren’t prepared to deal with the rigorous amounts of physical activity that may be required of them during a crisis.

Now is the time to honestly start to assess your fitness level. Even those who hit the gym may not be in the shape they think they’re in. While having a daily exercise program is excellent, if you spend the rest of your day sitting behind a computer screen, you’re probably not in the shape you think you’re in. If you are required to sit all day for work, at the very least, you should be taking frequent breaks to stretch, move around, and get your heart rate up. Even better would be doing some sort of cardio or fitness activity during your breaks. A few push-ups, some jumping jacks, or a quick jog up a flight of stairs can be a great way to break up the day and maintain your physical readiness.

Getting into Shape

What you do really depends on you, but you must do something. Whether it’s joining a gym, doing some sort of at-home program like P90X, or hiking your local trails, the point is you need to commit to something that helps keep your body in top physical condition.

Personally, I think hiking with a good amount of weight in your backpack is one of the best things you can do to stay in shape, and it also gives you a good chance to try out some outdoor wilderness skills which could help during certain survival situations. But again, what you choose is not as important as choosing something and sticking with it.

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  1. I’m 63 yo and swim 3/4 mile 3 times a week. Before I leave for my office job I do 40 situps and 40 push-ups on the front room floor. At noon I take my sandwich and go for a one mile walk and eat lunch. This isn’t a special forces workout but I feel good and think I’m in better shape then most guys my age. Start out with a 10min walk and increase it by 5 min per week until you can walk for 30min without stopping. Find a local swimming pool and get started doing a couple laps and increas it by one lap per week. Start out in the morning with doing 5 pushups and 5 setups and increase it by 3 setups per week to a person goal. This is a reasonable fitness start and will help you so you don’t get hurt or discurraged. Having a reasonable level of physical fitness can save you or your families life in an emergency. “Long live the Republic”

  2. For beginners who want to start building running stamina, Couch to 5k is pretty good and it’s a free phone app.

  3. I know that I have to be in better physical condition than I am now. But I feel like my excersizing isn’t enough. I’ve been looking for a good workout routine that I could do daily to form and maintain a good functional fitness. However, I do not have any equipment to work with. Any ideas?

    • Joshua,

      I definitely believe you can get in to shape without any equipment.

      Maybe you need to vary up the types and intensity of exercises to keep stressing your body to react more positively to the exercise.

    • Try, or the magazine Mens Health….they have fitness programs, excellent ones at that, that are based on circuit and interval training with only your bodyweight for resistance

  4. Joshua- what part of the country are you in?

    I don’t use any equipment currently, but I do find it useful to have a group to work out with (that way I feel bad if I don’t show up ;-) ). I found a group here in the Carolinas (, and they have branches in other cities, that meet between 5 and 6a at various places around the city. There are different “classes” (there is no charge, just a group of guys with a similar goal) with some focusing on running, others are more boot camp style, and some use basic equipment like kettle bells. They don’t leave anyone behind (and I was really lagging the first few times) and they take turns leading the class. It lasts between 45 minutes and an hour. They’re very challenging and I started about a month ago to get ready to do the GoRuck Challenge. Its the most fun I’ve had working out and I actually look forward to the suck in the early morning gloom. I’m going at least 3 days per week, and then I’m rucking with 36lbs 2 days a week, and doing a more calisthenics based routine the other 2 days – I’ll probably scale all that back post-Challenge. I’m a banker

    I dislike gyms and really dislike running more than 400m – 800m at a time. I did try Crossfit first, and it was okay (at $2k+ per year for a membership) and didn’t use much equipment either. I used to run track in high school and know how to run, but I’ve never liked it very much so I just focus on either riding a bike or rucking/hiking with a heavy pack instead.

  5. Great article!!
    I totally agree that the first step for anyone who’s preparing for unexpected situations is to train his body. As we know there are no military units in the world that do not have a physical fitness requirement.

    • Do forget all of the negative press, because each crossfit trainer is different. DON’T forget that crossfit is under a lot of scrutiny from the entire fitness community. If you go from couch potato to crossfit, the chances of you injuring yourself are astronomical. Don’t be a weekend warrior, be smart and ease your way into physical fitness. Not trying to bash crossfit. Since I have never done crossfit, I can’t attest to it being either good/bad, but I can say that I am…”seasoned” in physical fitness and I have seen many people get injured due to a lack of understanding. People often jump to the hardest thing they can find at first with the hopes of quickly whipping oneself into shape.

      Bottom line: If you are truly out of shape (i.e. low strength and poor cardio), begin at first with **AEROBIC** exercises. These include, but are not limited to: Distance running, swimming, “cardio” type exercises that include lots of motion over an extended period of time. By working on Aerobic (cardio) exercises first, you are allowing your cardiovascular (keyword vascular) system to wake up. In order to prep your body for health, wake up your veins, your heart, your ability to move your blood throughout your body to meet the demands of your new physical fitness program.

      Once you begin making progress with Aerobic (cardio), move on to **ANEROBIC** exercises. This includes, but is not limited to: Weight lifting, sprinting, high resistance exercises…

      Trust me, I’m not selling any one particular method, but I implore everyone of you looking to improve your fitness levels to EASE INTO THE PROGRAMS! The term “Weekend Warrior” is a real thing, and if you let your body set the pace, you will mitigate the “injury factor”.

      Eyes open, stay safe.

      • …also to add one last tidbit…

        If you injure yourself now (like I did years ago when I first started exercising), you will regret it when SHTF. I have finally been able to negate my back injury. I first began lifting because I was a skinny guy…I didn’t know anything and hurt myself deadlifting. Just be careful everyone. Look out for yourself and your health now, because nobody will be there for you when SHTF.

  6. I suggest joining a local martial arts club. It will get you into shape and you wii learn something in the process. You can practice on your “days off” at your own speed, and be able to practice with other like minded students. I started at the age of 40 and finally got my black belt at the age of 46 and have never felt better!

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