When people think about survival or prepping, their focus naturally settles on physical goods. They make sure they have plenty of food and water stocked up, focus on getting bug-out bags ready, buy plenty of guns and ammo, and even set up a retreat location. What gets a little less focus is physical fitness. All the gear in the world won’t help you if you’re out of shape and in poor health. It can be difficult to stick to a workout routine once you’re settled into a career and start a family, but the importance of remaining physically fit can’t be overstated. Since heart disease is one of the major killers in this country, it’s particularly important to keep your heart healthy.
You don’t have to be a runner to keep your heart and lungs in shape. Cardiovascular exercise can take many forms and you can mix things up to keep from getting bored. Hiking is a good way to keep your lungs and heart healthy and make sure that your joints and tendons get exercise too. Find a trail that you haven’t explored yet and enjoy the beauty of nature while you’re getting in shape. If hiking starts to get too easy, start hiking with a backpack. Pack it with 10, 20, or 30 pounds and keep upping the weight. Not only does it take more effort, it also prepares you for when you might have to get out of Dodge with only the stuff you can carry on your back.
Swimming is also a good form of cardiovascular exercise. If you have access to a pool, you can start off swimming short distances and slowly work your way up to longer distances. Not only do your heart and lungs get good exercise, so do your arms and legs. If you have access to oceans or lakes you could swim there, too, although judging distance is a little more difficult and you should try only to swim in the presence of a lifeguard. River swimming is much more difficult and not recommended.
Riding a Bicycle
Biking is another form of cardiovascular exercise that works your legs as well as your heart and lungs. You can bike along trails, up and down hills, and really vary the amount of effort you subject yourself too. If you happen to live in an area with well-developed bike trails that lead past tourist locations or bed and breakfasts you can even couple your exercise with a pleasure trip. Make sure to wear a helmet to protect your head in case of a crash, and take care when biking on roads that are shared with automobiles.
Of course, running is one of the best-known and most popular forms of cardiovascular exercise. But too much running can actually be detrimental to your heart if you run too much. It also can harm your joints, particularly if you’re running on asphalt- or concrete-paved roads. Especially if you weigh more than you used to, it’s best to start off slow and run short distances. Trying to do too much too soon can lead to tendon and ligament injuries, shin splints, and other overuse injuries that can require long periods of recovery.
If you haven’t run in a while, try starting off with short distances, 50-100 meters at most. That’s anywhere from half a football field to an entire football field. Run at a pace that challenges you but that isn’t too strenuous. Do that 3-4 times, resting in between each run. Gradually work up to where you can run the length of the field down and back, then work up to doing laps around the field. Slowly work up the pace of running to where you’re running faster and faster. You could even incorporate fartlek-style runs, where you run the length of the field, walk the width of the field, and repeat. Running several intervals of a few hundred meters at a time is actually just as beneficial as running longer distances at a slower pace, and it helps your body to burn more calories after you’ve finished running.