Physical Fitness Your Most Important Prep

 Physical Fitness Hiking

What is the state of your medical readiness?  

Your physical activity will increase during a crisis and if you are not conditioned you will find that survival is much more of a struggle than you may have expected.

You may be required to carry a heavy pack when evacuating a disaster area. You may have to carry children or help injured adults make their way through rubble and damaged structures. You will be carrying packs with supplies, tools and materials to sustain life until it is safe to return home. You will not be able to do any of this unless you are in relatively good physical condition. Your life and the life of others may depend on your physical readiness.

You may not be able to use motor vehicles because of damaged roads and lack of fuel. When is the last time you walked to the store and carried back bags of groceries, could you do it if you had too?


From right after the civil war through the early 1900’s important events altered the fitness levels of people living in the United States. Before this period exercise or the lack of it was never a problem. There was work to be done every minute of the day, work that required physical activity.

Most of the work centered around daily living such as plowing fields for planting, harvesting crops, hunting trips, foraging for plants, nuts and berries, raising livestock, processing foods for preservation, chopping wood for the fires and keeping shelters in good repair.

People needed strong arms, backs, hearts and legs. It was common for people to walk miles to gatherings, festivals and other community events once or twice a week. Hunting trips required days of walking sometimes and then carrying the game back home.

Then came the industrial revolution and cities became more attractive.

Mechanical technology reduced the workload. Machines now could do the work of tens of people. The cotton gin was revolutionary but mass production requires less activity from workers.

More people began migrating to the cities, so hunting trips became just hobbies for some because butchers, bakers and candlestick makers occupied every street corner, and were nothing more than a few minutes away by horse or buggy.

The turn of the century and by the turn of switches that now powered machinery people began dying from influenza, polio, rubella, and other diseases. Heart attacks and high blood pressure killed many more people and diabetes became more prevalent. Chronic conditions caused by poor physical health were on the rise due to less physical activity without a reduction in calorie intake. Matter of fact food was processed on a greater scale during this period and calorie intake increased. Technology took its toll on the health of the American citizen.

Modern Day

Who is ready for a field trip carrying a 50-pound pack on their back? Most if asked would probably say they could do it, but what in your current lifestyle would lead you to believe that. Of course, age and other factors have something to do with it, as well as, the person themselves, but not being conditioned for the task has the most to do with it. Unless you have been conditioned, it would be a difficult task.

Physical fitness must be a part of your prepping plans. What good is a bug-out-bag with all that survival gear if you cannot get past the city limits or even past the end of the street carrying it?

Many Preppers plan to hunt when the SHTF but have they considered the miles they will have to travel on foot with gear on their back to find game and then get it back home. There will not be any four wheelers or pickup trucks waiting in the clearing to haul the game back for you. The game will have to be packed out on your back or people back home will go hungry. You have to be physically fit to survive in the days after a catastrophe. Tools and machinery that made many tasks simpler will not be available.

You will have to cut and chop wood with an axe or wood saw, fuel for chainsaws, and log splitters may be only a luxury left to your dreams.

Getting Fit

Before staring any exercise program consult with your physician and have a checkup. You cannot go from a relatively sedate lifestyle to one of extreme physical activity overnight. For those that go to the gym two or three times a week may be in for a surprise as well. Walking for 10 miles over rough terrain with a 40-50 pound pack on is different from walking on a flat treadmill for 60 minutes a few times a week. The only way to condition you for the activities required during a crisis is to emulate those tasks.

In Crisis Mode

No electricity, the highway is damaged and you need to find the local disaster relief agency that is set up to distribute food to the local citizens. This is a stopgap method because they will only be handing out food, water and other essentials for a short period. If the crisis extends beyond that, you are on your own, so it is important that you are able to carry home enough food to last until the crisis ends. Are you in shape to do this, people are depending on you.

It is five miles into town and you need to walk there and then walk back carrying food, water, diapers and other essentials they are handing out. You need to prepare for this, if not hiking to town to gather supplies you will be hiking the woods stalking game and carrying it back home.

Your days during a crisis will be spent on your feet walking to find food sources, growing a food source, harvesting a food source, looking for water, carrying water and protecting your supplies. You better have a good pair of sturdy shoes and are able to walk miles every day with weight on your back.

Those that think they will never have to leave their homes because they have stockpiled all they need for years to come can be displaced because of a fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane or tornado or are overrun by others. It does not matter how much you had or have stockpiled you need to be always on the move looking for more.

The easiest time you will have gathering food is when you already have some back home, when you are not desperate for food. Once you become desperate for food and other supplies your gathering become unorganized thus, unsuccessful because of this. From day one you need to be on the move, you cannot wait until you are almost out of food to begin looking for it.

You have no idea how long the crisis will last so you had better be out hunting and foraging the first day regardless of how much you have stockpiled in the garage. You need to be in shape to survive. Sitting in a rocking chair on the porch with a pump action ready to repel all boarders simply will not work.

Conditioning Training

Start out carrying a 10-pound pack around all day while at home. Put two five-pound bags of flour or sugar in it, strap it on, and leave it on. Walk at least a least a mile the first day, approximately 2,000 steps if your average stride length is 2.5 feet.

Experts recommend at least 10,000 steps per day to maintain good health, weight, build stamina and increase heart function. This is close to five miles depending on your actual stride length. It will take some time to get this point. You want to be careful of trying too much at once, work into it slowly.

You should add weight everyday so it becomes comfortable to carry a certain number of pounds around on your back. Expect to carry roughly 25 percent of your body weight in a pack comfortably after you have become conditioned. Do not attempt anymore than 30 percent of your body weight in a pack unless you have had years of conditioning.

Warm up first to prevent pulled muscles and cramping. Take it outside as well and to know what it feels like to walk on grass, gravel, and uneven ground carrying weight. Walking in a circle at the dog-walking park is ok but it does not condition your feet, ankles and calves for rocky terrain.

Keep in mind in a bug-out or other types of situations you may not be able to set your pack down so you may be required to do certain tasks with it on so practice doing everyday things with your pack on.