Why the Coronavirus Pandemic is the Perfect Time to Take a Fitness Reality Check
How fit are you, really?
If you had to run out of your house in a hurry and travel on foot with a small pack, kids, and your dog in tow, how far would you be able to get?
Just up the block?
In like manner, what if someone breaks into your house and you end up in a wrestling match, fighting for your life?
Or, a loved one gets stuck under a tree branch or piece of debris, and you have to lift it off of them to save their life--could you do it?
Because of the nature of our current crisis, we're fortunate that our 'fitness levels' have yet to be tested.
But our immune systems and finances?
That's a different story--and something we'll discuss in later posts this week.
It is worth noting that there is a very strong relationship between the immune system and physical fitness, so that is something that should be taken into account.
Enough theorizing and pondering hypothetical scenarios.
Let's start taking some action.
What's the first step to getting a realistic assessment of your health?
Get a Physical
If you haven't had one in a while, see your doctor for a checkup.
If this is difficult to do given our current circumstances, schedule one as soon as your general practitioner is available.
While you're there, find out your baselines for weight, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, cholesterol, and other basic health markers.
If you have to wait a bit to get your foot in the door, let's be honest, your own intuition and a full-length mirror are all you really need at the end of the day.
If you run out of breath walking up the stairs, a fat gut stares back at your reflection, and lifting up a box puts you out of commission for the day, let's face it, you're out of shape.
An intuitive assessment like this obviously isn't a true replacement for a serious checkup, however, it can suffice in the meantime.
Remember, a real checkup from a real doctor is not optional.
Sure, you may not need a doctor to tell you that you're fat or that your diet could be better, but you will need one to tell you if you have a serious health condition lurking under the skin.
So making a mental note of where you're at on your own is okay, however, you must still schedule a full-on physical as soon as your schedule allows for one.
Our next stop...
Turn Exercise Into a Non-negotiable Priority
This topic deserves its own post, as we believe many preppers tend to overlook physical fitness, and, for that matter, most people.
Furthermore, it isn't uncommon for someone to hate exercise and always associate the thought of it with a negative connotation.
We'll delve into more of that later this month.
For now, we're going to focus on why right now is the perfect opportunity to develop the exercise habit.
If you already have an exercise routine or haven't exercised since P.E. class in high school, there is no better time to start or amend your program than during lockdown and quarantine.
With the gyms closed, our monotonous routines of 'work-gym-home-sleep-repeat' have been disrupted.
Many people are now finding themselves stuck at home all day--no commute, possibly working from home, and a surplus of time on their hands.
What's particularly interesting is that your average 9-5 worker will usually never get this much time to themselves to sit and think, meaning that this is an incredible moment in time to get ahead in any area of your life that needs working on.
This is why home gym equipment, bread makers, DIY, hobby items, arts and crafts, and so on, have flown off the shelves like hotcakes.
How can we apply this surplus of 'thinking time' to improving our physical fitness and creating or strengthening the 'exercise habit'?
If you already exercise...
See if there is anything missing in your fitness regimen.
Men: are you neglecting cardiovascular work?
Women: are you forgoing some form of strength training?
Everyone: are you stretching after your workouts?
Are you rehabbing any nagging injuries you have, a tweaked wrist or lower backache, or are you just letting it fester?
If your program is lacking one or several of these elements, remember that it is perfectly okay to have particular fitness goals--e.g. desire to be a bodybuilder--yet, it is imperative that you continue to maintain other areas of your 'fitness life' while you strive to reach them.
Even if you want to spend the majority of your workout time dedicated to weights, it's important that you spend at least some time to cardiovascular training.
If you don't exercise...
Find a program/training style that interests you and get started.
We'll have more detailed information on this later (hey, you have to prep your health too!), but for now, we'd recommend heading over to Reddit and browsing the various fitness-related subreddits.
There are tons of pre-made workout programs and templates for you to follow, irrespective of your experience level.
Be Kind to Your Body
Start slow on your exercise routine if you're adopting one for the first time.
The soreness your muscles produce may surprise you, especially if they've been sedentary for a while.
Walk or bike ten minutes a day initially, gradually increasing the pace and duration as you get used to it.
Similarly, if you're introducing new elements to your program, do it slowly.
It's easy to give up on adding cardio if you immediately go from zero to running one to two miles every other day.
On the other hand, it's easy to stick with it if you start walking for a few minutes, then add a bit more time, then switch to jogging, and so on and so forth over the course of several weeks.
Aside from easing yourself into it, it is also very important that you develop the ability to listen to your body.
If you feel like you should skip a workout, you probably should.
If a particular exercise doesn't feel right, stop doing it.
These often subtle messages your body sends you should never be ignored.
For all you know, it could prevent you from spending nine months in a sling, unable to move or enjoy any type of exercise at all.
Lastly, warm-up prior to your workouts and make time to stretch afterward.
These mundane pre and post-workout habits you may remember from high school were done with good reason: they protect you from injury!
Stay Safe If You Exercise Outdoors
This may appear to be an odd bit of advice, but if you choose to walk or jog outside, stay in known, safe areas, and always be aware of your surroundings.
Likewise, it may behoove you to let someone know where you're going and when they should expect you to return.
While 'getting jumped' is always a risk of normal daily life, it's possible you could also become severely dehydrated and pass out, get injured, or something similar.
This is doubly so if you're cycling or skateboarding.
We can think of two different people we know personally who survived cycling injuries only because of the presence of another person/someone else knew where they were.
We'd like to conclude this thought with, "Better safe than sorry," however, this is a prepper site, after all, so we imagine you're already thinking that.
It isn't often that we experience a total, global, societal standstill like this, and it isn't one we should put to waste.
While it's fun to catch up on those TV shows and videogames you've been wanting to get around to, it is in your best interest to attend to your health first.
Without your health, after all, you have nothing.
That may sound cheesy, but everyone who has had a serious health issue knows how true that statement is.
In the coming weeks, we're going to continue discussing how to 'prep' with regards to your health and fitness, alongside a few other key areas: personal finance, home security, and food storage and cooking.
If you'd like us to touch on anything in particular, please, let us know!
In the same way, if you have any questions, comments, or anything you'd like to add, we'd love to hear from you in the comments below or on social media.
Stay tuned for more.
If you're gearing up for your next adventure or prepping for potential disasters, take a peek at our catalog and see if there is anything you need to complete your kit or stow away for the future.
The Prepper's Pocket Guide by Bernie Carr
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey MD