So you are planning for surviving disasters, manmade or acts of God. You have food, shelter, weapons and transportation. You have watched hundreds of survivor videos on YouTube. You have the means to purify water, breathe safe air, and stay warm and protected from the elements. You can start a fire with two sticks, a knife and a shoestring. You have several firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammo for each. You are as materially ready for that moment when the SHTF and it’s bug out time. You have prepared your brain and your support system to sustain you and your family.
But have you prepared your body?
In an emergency the ability to think and react quickly, both mentally and physically is a matter of life and death. Recent show on disasters said that the biggest causes of death during a disaster comes from the failure to understand the risk and react when those first few seconds matter most. If your reactions are too slow or worse, no action is taken, your chances of surviving plummet. Peer pressure was shown to be a very big factor in people not acting quickly. A humbling example was the attack on 9/11. Many people evacuated the building as soon as they sensed danger. Far too many tragically hesitated, or worse, had their survival instinct overridden by peer pressure to remain calm and stay in their seats.
Try to imagine you are on the 75th floor of one of the twin towers. The elevators are not an option. Now the only chance you have in order to get out fast, is to take 75 flights of steps on foot. Now adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone, along with a healthy dose of survival instinct, will take you a great distance. The question I have is could you walk down 75 flights of steps, right now, if your life depended on it? If that answer is not ABSOLUTELY, you have a gaping hole in your survival strategy!
The biggest threat to your survival is your own body.
Here is the question, would considering that 75 flight effort make you hesitate, even if only for a couple of seconds, out of fear you couldn’t make it, or worse, you feared looking out of shape because you would struggle and gasp for air and have to stop repeatedly to catch your breath? What if you had a warning that a nuke was set to go off and there was a 10 minute warning and you were a mile from the nearest shelter, could you run a mile in under 10 minutes? Do you see the pattern here? Is your cardiovascular system sufficient to sustain these efforts or are you going to be at risk of dying because you cannot get to safety in time?
Just as you plan the material aspects of your survival, you must plan on being fit enough to implement that plan. This discussion is addressing the most critical factor in most survival situations, the ability to flee and quickly. This has to do with the ability of your heart to deliver oxygen and glucose to your muscles. In an effort lasting longer than a few seconds but less than 20 minutes, glucose is what is being burned. If the work demand exceeds our ability to get oxygen to the muscles, in this case mostly our legs, and get it back to the heart, the glucose metabolism is anaerobic and we produce lactic acid. That is what causes that burning sensation in our legs and causes us to breathe heavily trying to get more oxygen to our legs.
So let’s put this in perspective. You spend several hours each month at the range with your firearm. You practice shooting, field stripping, unjamming and reloading your firearms. Do you spend time at the gym or out on the trail, getting your heart to pump harder and faster so it too can be ready for whatever you throw at it? If not you are setting yourself up for failure. In the Twin Towers scenario, your CCW is not going to get you out alive, it’s going to be your heart that will determine if you live or die.
Just like you know what ammo to use in your gun, you should know your cardiovascular fitness score. There are several ways you can get a good guess at it. Your local gym and a treadmill is the easiest. You might need a heart rate monitor, but most treadmills have handles to hold that measure your heart rate. The test will involve walking up an incline and possibly some light jogging. If you have a medical condition, speak to your physician first before attempting this. He may want you to come in for a graded exercise test with EKG. You will want to find the fitness test protocol on the treadmill options menu. When the test is completed, you will receive a score of either METs or ml/kg/min. One MET is 3.5 ml/kg/min. This is the ability of your body to deliver oxygen and use it. This is called your VO2 or maximum oxygen uptake. It’s your horsepower to body weight ratio. 1 MET is what we expend at rest.
There are also tests involving walking a distance quickly and tracking your heart rate and the recovery rate. Faster recovery means better shape. The purpose of these tests are to determine how cardiovascular fit you are. Extra weight from fat dilutes and lowers your score. So if you are over fat, your fitness score will be lower. So shedding those extra pounds is a good survival strategy as extra weight impairs your cardiovascular performance.
|Activity level||METs/Hr of Activity||Activity|
|1.5||Reading, talking on telephone|
|1.8||Sitting in class, studying, note taking|
|Light||2.0||Walking at a slow pace (1-2 mi/hr), playing musical instrument, Light gardening, Light office work, light use of hand tools (watch repair or micro-assembly, light assembly/repair); standing, light work (bartending, store clerk, assembling, filing)|
|Light Plus||2.5||Walking downstairs, Cooking, light housekeeping, shopping, Pushing stroller with child, walking dog|
|2.5 – 3||Walking at an average pace (2-2.5 mi/hr), slow dancing, Golf (using power cart), bowling, fishing|
|3.0||Standing doing light/moderate work (assemble/repair heavy parts, welding, auto repair, pack boxes for moving, etc), patient care (as in nursing); driving heavy tractor, bus or truck, Washing car or windows, mopping, moderately vigorous playing with children, sweeping outside house, vacuuming, picking fruit or vegetables, scrubbing floors|
|Moderately Vigorous||3.5||Walking at a brisk pace (1 mi every 20 min), Weight lifting, water aerobics, Golf (not carrying clubs), eisurely canoeing or kayaking, Walking on job, 3 mph (one mile every twenty minutes), in office – moderate speed, not carrying anything, or carrying only light articles.|
|4||Walking at a very brisk pace (1 mi every 17 to 18 min), climbing stairs, dancing (moderately fast), leisurely bicycling <10 mph, Raking lawn, planting shrubs, weeding garden, heavy yard work or gardening activities, Masonry, painting, paper hanging, moderately heavy lifting, moderately heavy farm work|
|Moderately Vigorous Plus||4.5||Slow swimming, Golf (carrying clubs)|
|5||Walking at a very brisk pace (one mi every 15 min), Most doubles tennis, Dancing (more rapid), Some exercise apparatuses, Walking downstairs or standing, carrying objects about 25-49 lb, Digging, spading, vigorous gardening, using heavy power tools; general gardening, mowing lawn (hand mower), Painting, carpentry, cleaning gutters, laying carpet, other vigorous activities, Chopping wood|
|Vigorous||6||Slow jogging (one mi every 13 to 14 min), Ice or roller skating, Doubles tennis (if you run a lot), Using heavy tools (not power) such as shovel, pick, spade; driving heavy machinery, forestry|
|6 – 7||Hiking|
|6 – 8||Rowing, canoeing, kayaking vigorously, Dancing (vigorous), Some exercise apparatuses|
|6-10||Bicycling 10 to 16 mph, Swimming laps moderately fast to fast, aerobic calisthenics|
|7 – 12||Singles tennis, squash, racquetball|
|8||Jogging (1 mile every 12 min), Skiing downhill or cross country, Heavy farming work|
|10||Running 6 mph (10-minute mile)|
|13.5||Running 8 mph (7.5-minute mile)|
|16||Running 10 mph (6-minute mile)|
Where do you see yourself hitting the wall? Do you struggle at 6 METs or can you routinely handle 13 METs? The higher the score, the more cardiovascular fit you are, and the increased ability for your body to handle the flight part of getting out of danger. Include knowing your fitness score and work on improving it so you can survive dangerous situations. If your MET maximum is lower than you feel comfortable with, start doing cardio training. It can be a matter of life and death.
Click here to view Van’s previous article on physical fitness
Just how much big of a role does physical fitness play in your survival tactics?