Physical Fitness

The greatest wealth is health. - Virgil

In a survival or emergency situation you are at your peak condition, both physically and mentally, before the event occurs. Once a situation occurs, through lack of sleep, injury, or lack of nourishment, your condition is likely to deteriorate. Being in good physical condition will increase you chances for survival.

Physical fitness is a result of exercise, proper diet and nutrition. Being physically fit allows the heart, lungs, and muscles to perform at a high level for for extended periods. During emergency situations, adverse physical conditions and high levels of stress can be greatly increased. The level of fitness influences our ability to effectively manage and perform task during an emergency. Physical fitness during an emergency/survival situation should be designed towards improving stamina and endurance.

Fitness also influences to some degree our state of mind and mental alertness. Physical fitness can allow someone to withstand and endure stress in circumstances where an unfit person may not be able to continue. Having a positive mental attitude is key to overcoming any emergency/survival situation

Physical fitness can be divided into the three categories, all are vital attributes during emergency/survival situations.

  1. Cardiovascular endurance: This is the ability of the body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove wastes over sustained periods.
  2. Muscular strength & endurance: Strength deals with the ability of the muscle to exert force for a brief time period, while endurance is the ability of a muscle, or group of muscles, to sustain repeated contractions or to continue to apply force against an inert object.
  3. Flexibility: This denotes the ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion.


Exercise is important to keep your body in good condition. Walking 30 to 45 minutes three times a week will give you some healthful benefits like lower blood pressure, increased HDL(good) cholesterol levels, and will aid in body fat loss.

As you consider the best kind of exercise for you keep in mind:

  • Weight Training - In addition to improving strength, balance and posture weight-training or resistance-training programs have been shown to increase muscle mass around the joints and bones, all of which decrease your chances of injury
  • Aerobic Exercise - also know as cardiovascular fitness increases the heart, blood vessels, and lung's ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to our body. Aerobic exercise will increase stamina levels and increase the efficiency of the heart, which can decrease our chances of developing high blood pressure and coronary heart disease

Assess your fitness level

You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But assessing and recording baseline fitness scores can give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress. To assess your aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility and body composition, consider recording:

  • Your pulse rate before and after a one-mile walk
  • How long it takes to walk one mile
  • How many push-ups you can do at a time
  • How far you can reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs in front of you
  • Your waist circumference at the level of your navel
  • Your body mass index

Design a fitness program

Plan a logical progression of activity. If you're just beginning to exercise, start cautiously and progress slowly. Think about how you'll build activity into your daily routine. Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. Shorter but more frequent sessions have aerobic benefits. Fifteen minutes of exercise a couple of times a day may fit into your schedule better than a single 30-minute session. Cross-training also reduces your chances of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint. Plan to alternate among activities that emphasize different parts of your body, such as walking, swimming and strength training. Most adults should aim for at least 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, a week. Adults also need two or more days of strength training a week Allow time for recovery.

The Target Heart Rate (THR), or Training Heart Rate , is a desired range of heart rate reached during aerobic exercise which enables one's heart and lungs to receive the most benefit from a workout.

Getting started

Start slowly and build up gradually. Give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching. Then speed up to a pace you can continue for five to 10 minutes without getting overly tired. As your stamina improves, gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. Work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Many people start exercising with frenzied zeal and then give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured. Plan time between sessions for your body to rest and recover.


The majority of people do not aerate the entire lung when breathing. They take shallow breaths using only the chect, and do not use thier diaphragm properly. Breathing or wind training will increase your stamina and result in a quicker 2nd wind.

Oxygen provides energy, bad or shallow breathing results in quicker fatigue, both physical and mental. Breathing envolves the entire nervous system and muscles. Proper breathing envolves slow deep breaths through your nose only. You should be conscious of using your diaphragm and chest both to inhale and exhale.

Brething Exercise

  • Stand up straight with your feet slightly apartand parallel to one another with your arms hanging loose.
  • Concentarate on your breathing, exhale through your nose making sure to use your diaphragm. Then breath in the same way, relaxing your stomach muscles so that the air fills your lungs from the bottom up, and not the chest down.
  • Hold your breath for five seconds before you exhale again. repeat the excersice for five minutes, trying to hold your breath a little longer each time between breaths.
  • Repeat the excercise a few times through out the day. The exercise can be done with movement as well. Breath in, hold your breath and take a step forward. When your foot hits the ground, breath out. This can get you used to exhaling when you exert your muscles and inhaling as you relax.

Over time this type of breathing can become natural and automatic, and in times of physical activity you will benifit greatly from breathing correctly. Proper breathing helps circulation which takes oxygenated blood and nutrients to where they are needed most in times of emergency.


Why Should You Stretch?

  • Improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury
  • Reduce muscle soreness and improve your posture
  • Increase blood and nutrients to the tissues

How to Stretch

Stretch after your workout when your muscles are warm and you're ready for a cool down. You don't have to stretch before your workout but, if you do, make sure you do it after the warm up. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury.

When doing static stretches, don't bounce. Hold a comfortable position until you feel a gentle pull on your muscle. It shouldn't hurt and bouncing could cause you to pull a muscle.

Try to hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds to get some long-term flexibility benefits.

Monitor your progress

Retake your personal fitness assessment six weeks after you start your program and then again every three to six months. You may notice that you need to increase the amount of time you exercise in order to continue improving. Or you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you're exercising just the right amount to meet your fitness goals.


There are many benefits from getting and staying healthy. Besides having lower blood pressure, and better HDL (good) cholesterol levels that we already mentioned, you will also increase your resistance to disease, and you will look and feel better. Getting proper nutrition and exercise also helps your family reach their full growth potential. Mental alertness will be increased and your body will be better able to digest the food you consume.

An important part of your preparedness plan

In general, your health will enhance your entire life, not just for emergencies. When an emergency happens, you will be better able to cope with any injuries (to yourself or others), you will be more mentally alert to deal with the stress of the situation, you will be able to evacuate more easily, and you will have the capacity to help others around you. Being physically fit is one more way you can be prepared, not only for emergencies, but for the rest of your life.