SURVIVAL & PHYSICAL FITNESS : PT 1
Being physically fit is important for numerous reasons. Besides the most valuable benefit of increasing ones own health (and thereby decreasing the risk for infections, diseases, common illness, etc.), being physically fit increases energy levels, boosts self-confidence, improves mental clarity,and generally improves quality of life.
Striving towards physical fitness may not be as fun as getting new gear or as tangible as buying 100 lbs of beans, but No More Dependence sincerely believes that regular exercise, combined with a sensible diet, is one of the most fundamental and practical survival skills to possess.
Ultimately, when weighing likely risks and potential real world survival scenarios, an individual who is generally regarded as physically fit, will have a greater likelihood of survival than his or her out of shape, or weaker, counterpart.
That being said, we’re not advocating everyone should spend everyday in a gym exercising, we’re merely observing that as individuals who strive to be prepared and rely less on others, being in shape is a solid tactical advantage.
Because physical fitness is a huge subject matter, we’ll be breaking this series into four, easy to digest articles.
SURVIVAL & PHYSICAL FITNESS : PT 1 will talk about what physical fitness is and basic body types.
SURVIVAL & PHYSICAL FITNESS : PT 2 will talk about proven physical fitness concepts such as how to lose weight, how to gain muscle, and how to increase CR endurance.
SURVIVAL & PHYSICAL FITNESS : PT 3 will talk about some fundamental components of a solid fitness routine.
Finally, SURVIVAL & PHYSICAL FITNESS : PT 4 will provide several basic resources, calculators, links, etc., to help you figure out what to do next.
Before we begin Part 1, we want to take a moment and get the obligatory disclosures out of the way…
Exercising (whether it’s running, weight lifting, or whatever) is among the safest of recreational activities an individual could become involved in. This level of safety obviously decreases when common sense and proper form aren’t prudently exercised. If you aren’t in the habit of exercising regularly, you should consult a doctor or other qualified health professional first before you start a routine or fitness program.
Also, if you have a pre-existing medical condition and aren’t familiar with the risks associated with participating in an exercise regiment, again, you should consult with a doctor or other qualified health professional…
For those individuals who currently exercise in some form or another on a regular basis, we’d love to get your feedback. If you notice any fundamental concepts or strategies missing in any of these posts and you think others would benefit from your knowledge, please contact us!
What is Physical Fitness?
To fully understand the basics of physical fitness and its importance to survival preparedness, it’s critical to understand what we mean when we refer to being physically fit.
Physical fitness refers to an individuals ability to function in physical work, training, or any other activities AND still have sufficient energy left over to handle any unknown emergencies which may arise. The U.S. Army Fitness Training Handbook breaks this down further by identifying the main components of physical fitness:
Cardiorespiratory (CR) endurance: the efficiency with which the body delivers oxygen and nutrients needed for muscular activity and transports waste products from the cells.
Muscular strength: the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort.
Muscular endurance: the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated movements with a sub-maximal force for extended periods of time.
Flexibility: the ability to move the joints (for example, elbow,knee) or any group of joints through an entire, normal range of motion.
Body composition: the amount of body fat an individual has in comparison to his total body mass.
When you combine these components, you get the ability to mitigate many basic tasks that may be demanded of an individual in a survival situation. For example, the ability to repeatedly lift and/or transport 50-100 lbs for an extended period of time would be extremely useful for gathering and transporting water, food, or other basic gear. You may find you need to travel long distances on foot to avoid or evade a threat, having CR endurance will help you get there quickly and efficiently. Even if you end up bugging in, being physically fit will increase odds of survival. If it’s a situation that may involve civil unrest or disruption in emergency and law enforcement services, being physically fit will help you avoid, evade, and when necessary, defeat, threats such as rioters, criminals, etc.
Physical fitness is achieved through consistent exercise and a sensible diet. This is probably one of the most common challenges for individuals trying to to establish a fitness routine. It may seem daunting at first but look at the big picture. All you really need to get started is a 20-30 minute commitment 4-5 times a week. That’s it. You could even potentially break it up into several 5 minute activities such as push-ups or some other type of body weight exercise. The point is, make the time for physical fitness, make it work for you, and stick to it! Ultimately, if you successfully accomplish those three points, you will be successful in becoming and maintaining a satisfactory level of physical fitness.
If you’re not already engaged in some form of regular exercise, be it cardiorespiratory, strength training, or some combination of the two, it’s important to asses your goals and create an action plan before you actually start doing anything. Like many other survival traits and skills, thorough planning is ideal to optimize your results and help you meet and even exceed your goals.
Common physical fitness goals include weight goals (think specific, such as I want to lose xx lb’s in x months), CR endurance goals (such as running x miles in x minutes),strength goals (such as lifting xxx lb’s in a specific type of lift), or some combination of them all.
Whatever your long term objective, knowing your body type can be a helpful starting point prior to creating an exercise routine.
Every Bodies Different
William Sheldon is considered to be a pioneer in the field of anthropometry by observing that people generally fall into one of three basic body types (or some mix of the three). These three basic “somatotypes” consist of the following:
- The Ectomorph: An ectomorph physique is more fragile and delicate than others. Frequently characterized by light bones, small joints and small muscle composition. These individuals are commonly referred to as “hard gainers” because of the difficult nature of adding muscle or gaining weight. These thin individuals also have to work hard to maintain their desired weight and often have high metabolisms.
- The Mesomorph: Mesomorphs are generally the most desirable body types due to their well defined muscles and thick skin. More often than not, mesomorphs will have clearly defined facial features and large, dense, bones. They generally do not have to work as hard (compared to ectomorphs for example, it’s still work…) to gain and maintain muscle.
- The Endomorph: The third and final main body type is the endomorph. Endomorphs are somewhat of a mixture of the prior two body types. They can generally gain muscle easily like the mesomorph but have rounder and softer bodies. They generally accumulate more stomach and abdominal fat than the other body types and may often project the talky appearances.
It’s important to note that many people fall into a mixture of one or more of these three main body types. For example, someone may have a smaller or more delicate build (common to an ectomorph), but also be able to quickly gain muscle or add weight (an ecto-mesomorph). This is why knowing your body and it what it responds to is so effective. While one specific exercise routine may yield impressive results for one person, for another it may not do anything or even potentially hinder performance. There is no right or wrong exercise routine or approach, as long as you follow a few basic principles. Because there is no one size fits all solution to physical fitness, ultimately, you’re in the best position to choose how you achieve it.
Alright, that’s a brief, high level overview about what physical fitness entails, it’s usefulness to survival, and the three main body types.
If you’d like to know what the next step would be in your journey to become fitter, start thinking about what it is you’d like to accomplish.
Do you want to shed some weight? Maybe, you’d like to be able to run farther, or become stronger. You could desire to become more flexible and agile, or perhaps bulk up a bit. Whatever you desire, try and think of what types of exercise you’d like to participate in. Something that may be fun for you and realistic to your unique schedule.