Shape Up for a Bug Out
You may have done a good job of emergency preparedness by gathering food, water and emergency supplies, but if you had to bug out today, that is, evacuate due to an emergency situation, would you be able to withstand the physical demands placed on you? Imagine hiking for days with all your gear on your back, lifting heavy objects and just surviving outside. Have you done a good job preparing your body for the challenge? The majority of us would probably answer “no”.Conditioning your muscles and cardiovascular system for strenuous activity is often overlooked while stocking supplies for an evacuation, but it is equally important, especially if other family members are depending on you for survival. For some of us, it may sound like a daunting task, but setting fitness goals and reaching them can be satisfying and motivating. Of course you should consult your physician before beginning any fitness regime, and then set small, attainable goals to feel successful. Physical fitness is a journey not to be completed in huge leaps, but small steps.Aerobic exercise, with deep breathing for cardiovascular health, and strength workouts for muscle development are equally important for emergency preparedness and should be balanced in your routines. Begin any workout session well hydrated and with plenty of stretching. The last thing you want is an injury from trying to gain good health.Some examples of aerobic exercise are running, cycling, swimming and hiking with a loaded backpack. Swimming is a great full-body, no-impact sport for conditioning, and you may need to rely on your ability to swim during an evacuation. Work toward exercising continuously for at least thirty minutes to condition your heart and lungs. Heart rate monitors are readily available to monitor your heart rate and keep it in the optimum zone. Push ups, sit ups, squats, lunges, and step ups are all ways to increase strength. There are three main phases in strength training: Preparatory, with light weights and fewer repetitions, conditioning, with increasing weights and increasing repetitions, and finally maintenance, where the goal is to maintain your fitness level by exercising at least three times per week. It is ok if you don’t have access to circuit training equipment for your exercise. Improvise the weights by using soup cans, bottles filled with water or sand, or tools such as hammers or wrenches. Heavy weights are not necessary for conditioning. Start by doing push ups or sit ups for one minute, then gradually work for two minutes, and so on. Core, or abdominal, strength is essential to overall agility and strength.Correct form and technique are crucial in any exercise, and if any pain is felt in joints or muscles, postpone your workouts to heal suitably. Be sure to lift properly when weight training, and focus on efficient movements during cardio training. Deliberate, deep breaths are important, being sure not to hold your breath while working out. Consult a trained professional for proper technique and form for the type of exercise you choose. A healthy diet will help speed up recovery times. Be sure to follow up your workouts with protein to rebuild muscle tissue, and above all else, have fun with your training. Keep it enjoyable by shaking up your routine. Try different exercises to work different muscles. Track your progress in a workout log. This will help motivate you by visualizing your goals and when you reach them. Train for a healthy lifestyle as well as for emergency preparedness. -Gary Jenkins-Gary Jenkins is a father and husband living in Oregon who is a wildlife rehabilitation and outdoor adventure enthusiast.