Saturday, March 6, 2010

On Survival Fitness

Last week I posted about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, and how attitude is just as important as gear and supplies in getting you through a survival situation.  Equally important to the survival mindset is basic physical fitness - another part of the equation often overlooked or pushed too far down on the list of priorities by preppers fixated on amassing stuff.  If bugging out is any part of your emergency survival plan, then maintaining at least a minimum level of physical fitness is essential to your success.  A bug-out plan means survival on the move, and any situation requiring such action will be both mentally stressful and physically demanding.  Even if your plan involves transportation by motor vehicle or boat, any long-term grid-down situation will require a lot of hard, physical work in one form or another. 

The problem for many people in our modern high-tech world in times of normalcy is that we don't have enough physical activity incorporated into our daily lives to maintain an adequate fitness level.  It gets worse the busier we get, especially with the demands of making money, spending time with family and other obligations and driving to and from all the places we have to go.  Sitting in front of computer certainly doesn't help either. During the second half of 2009, I spent more time at the keyboard than ever before in order to complete my forthcoming Bug Out book in time to meet  my deadline.  Fortunately, my other part-time work in the afternoons doing carpentry work and building my boat partially offset all that chair time.  Even so, I have to make an effort to do a maintenance workout with free weights three times per week and try to take a decent walk every evening. 

Back when I was doing my long-distance sea kayaking trips, as well as backpacking or bicycling at every opportunity, I never had to worry about staying fit.  My travel time has been cut dramatically lately, but I do plan to spend some time paddling, hiking, cycling and camping this spring.  The other big project is to complete my boat - the 26-foot catamaran that I've been building over the past three years.  My goal is to launch sometime before the end of 2010.  So if my posts here seem too infrequent, it's because I'm out doing something other than sitting at the computer.  After a bit of spring fever passes, I'll settle into a more regular writing routine. 

I urge anyone who is interested in survival, whether by bugging out or bugging in, to consider the importance of physical fitness and the implications a lack of basic fitness will have on you in a real SHTF scenario.  Like a proper mental attitude, physical endurance and toughness will get you through a lot of stuff even if you don't have all the skills and equipment you would like to have.  It's just another part of the necessary preps when putting together a survival plan. 


  1. Great post again! I've been a huge proponent of fitness. I've been working out at least 3 days a week (4 days a week now) for the past 4 years. When I say working out, I don't mean weightlifting, I mean functional fitness. Using my own bodyweight to get my heart rate up and tone muscle and build endurance. Just 20 minutes, 4 times a week makes a huge difference. You are correct, that fitness gets pushed down the list of survival skills to learn. If the SHTF, you'll need your attitude, fitness and food and water, before you'll ever use any of your tools or stockpiled items. Especially if you're on the move. Glad to see you posting this.


  2. Also think about taking a walk every day. Doesn't need to be a Battan Death March, something with hills or stairs having more benefits. Gets you out in the air, conditions your feet (your ultimate BOV). You can even combine the effort by taking some dumbells in your hand or daypack with weights inside. Tones those shoulder and back muscles. Start slow, then build it up.

    Or consider yard work. Grubbing around with a hoe, making a small concrete patio for the BBQ pit in back, there is always SOMETHING you can do to make things a little better and in the bargain, be better prepared.

    I've recently made a serious effort to lose the extra flab I've accumulated in the past 47 years. One easy to do on the diet - eliminate or greatly reduce carbs. No flour or sugar. A cousin of mine did that last year and lost a bit over 30 pounds with no other changes - it works.

  3. A light pack loaded equivalent to 10% of my body weight(currently about 13.5 lb) followed by a brisk speed march of 3 miles or so,3 or 4 times a week has had an amazing effect of my overall fitness without putting too much stress on my joints.
    I live on the outskirts of a large city and I don't own a car so for me bugging out on foot is my only option,I am lucky however in that within a few miles I`ve got some pretty rural areas to go to ground in.


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