Preparedness is not just about what you can buy or grow, or what you can hoard. It’s not just about how many guns and rounds of ammo you’ve saved up, how finely tailored your bug-out bag is or how many weeks’ worth of food you’ve stored.
It’s about surviving. And if the day comes when you and the people around you can’t rely on technology and the sophisticated infrastructure that supplies the food and comfort to which we’ve become accustomed, you’ll have to rely on yourself — and that means work.
Hard work — a lot harder than most of us are used to — demands that you be in adequate physical shape.
Fitness is something many Americans tend to view as a consumer luxury. People buy gym memberships out of vanity, to socialize or to burn off steam. Often, those gym memberships are abandoned after the thrill of novelty wears off.
But whether you go to a gym, exercise at home or do something active outdoors, it’s important that you don’t neglect your own fitness — because it’s one of the most important parts of any survival strategy.
In fact, it’s arguable that sound physical fitness, anchored by a mind ready to adapt and to lead, is more important than any amount of anticipatory preparedness. What good is four weeks’ worth of freeze-dried food if you aren’t up the challenge of fighting off those who’d seek to take it from you?
You are at the center of whatever contingency plan you’ll enact if things in your world — locally, regionally or nationally — go bad. And that means that your body and mind will be more crucial than any amount of critical consumer goods to your, and your family’s, well-being or survival in the event of a catastrophe that forces a change in the way you live.
Most of us aren’t very physically fit. We live among the world’s most affluent Nations, and consumer culture — despite its benefits as a driver of civilized economic prosperity — has left most Americans bereft of any true understanding of the nasty, brutish and short quality of human life and the default competitiveness of human beings pitted against each other in the hope of acquiring the very finite resources necessary for survival.
That sounds a bit philosophical; and, in your otium, you can intellectually engage the human condition at your leisure. But if something happens that forces you and your family into a new mode of living — one that demands only the cultureless and the necessary, that has no place for leisure and its ephemera — you’re going to be living in a reality that never feels abstract. You’re going to have to be up to the task of coping.
If you’re serious about preparing for the worst, you have to maintain a body that affords you, perhaps literally, a fighting chance. If you’re currently free from chronic maladies, it’s especially crucial that you take seriously your role in whatever prepper plan you’re devising, because you are likely to be one of the linchpins of others’ fortunes. Children, the elderly, the ill, the weak and the physically compromised are not capable of what you’re capable of.
This isn’t a story about how to get in shape. People are physically different, and some bodies respond differently to different stimuli. There are a lot of ways to get in shape and stay that way; and there’s no shortage of good information, and opinions, on the topic. It’s important to note that you don’t have to spend any money or buy a ton of fancy equipment or join a health club to be physically fit — so long as you have the mental discipline to devise and follow an exercise routine. Your body, along with a sound understanding of how to condition it through applying different forms of physical stress, are all that’s required.
So if you’re out of shape and unable to physically defend yourself; walk a long distance and help others travel with you; row a boat; or take point on the cycle of gardening, constructing, all-hours watching, leading and even thinking (which itself exacts a physical, calorie-burning price) on your own — and others’ — behalf, it’s time to regard your body and your mind as the most essential and sacred components of any preparedness plan you’ll ever set in motion. There’s little point in building fences or learning tactical firearms defense if you’re unable to cover ground on your own two feet. Conflict inevitably will come to that, if, as they say, the SHTF.
Besides, being physically fit enriches your life in the here and now — regardless of whether you live to see the Apocalypse.
How do you and your family stay in shape? Let us know what works for you and what doesn’t. And be sure to share any stories about the simple, free and maybe even fun things you do that keep you and your loved ones physically fit.