On Physical Conditioning by “Bings”

When contemplating the self-sufficient/survivalist lifestyle, the most common concerns are weapons, power generation, and food. One area that is frequently overlooked is that of physical fitness. All the non-hybrid seed in the world won’t do you any good if you have a heart attack while trying to plant it. All the guns in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t run to a defensive position without wheezing like an asthmatic in a field of ragweed.
Getting in shape often seems like an impossible task. Although you may never be able to be a body double for Brad Pitt or Kate Hudson, being healthy is a very achievable goal for anyone. All it takes is a little knowledge, some common sense, and dedication. The purpose of this article is to give you the basic knowledge you’ll need to achieve your fitness goals.
There are many factors that influence physical conditioning. Some are outside the scope of this article (like stress) and some are so complicated that going into depth about them would require a book (like nutrition). I’ll be covering some of the basics, but you may wish to do further research as your time and inclination allow.
First up is a series of negative factors that impede the march to fitness. At the top of the list is stress. It wears down your body, robbing you of the will to workout. Although it’s not always possible to completely eliminate stress, reducing it should be a goal of first importance. Closely allied with stress is lack of sleep. Too often our culture devalues sleep as a luxury, sacrificing precious rest time for unimportant pursuits. Without proper rest your body can neither recover from exercise, nor rebuild for further efforts. Relax, get enough sleep and you’ll be amazed how easy achieving your goals can be.
Now, let’s take a look at some things you can do to enhance the effectiveness of working out. At the front of the line is proper nutrition. I won’t get into specific diets or schools of nutritional thought, but there are a few general rules anyone can follow. Cutting down on junk food (candy, soda, potato chips etc), eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, eating breakfast first thing in the morning to get the metabolism working, and not eating for a few hours before going to sleep are all fairly easy to accomplish without drastic lifestyle changes.
Another vital aspect of an effective fitness plan is pre-workout stretching. Often overlooked, stretching properly reduces injuries, enhances the efficacy of a workout, and builds flexibility. Develop a routine that works for you, and do it religiously even on days you don’t work out.
Okay, you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, had a thorough stretching session, and you’re ready to exercise! Next we’re going to discuss some different types of exercises, their relative advantages and disadvantages, and how to get the most out of them. For the purposes of this article we’ll divide the various exercises into two categories: aerobic and strength. Although there is often significant overlap, this division helps to formulate a plan.
The aerobic (or cardiovascular) field of exercises function mainly to tone muscles, build endurance, and build up the circulatory and respiratory systems. This field should form the base of any exercise regime. Without proper circulation of well aerated blood, one cannot hope to make any significant fitness gains. I t is also the most important in terms of overall health.
The field of strength training is somewhat more limited, both in types of exercises and in potential gains. To derive the full benefits of this field, one should have a solid base of cardiovascular fitness. All this is not to demean strength training; it is merely an attempt to put it into perspective. There are many benefits to a proper strength training program, and it is definitely not a field to be ignored.
There are as many ways of getting fit as there are unfit people. The key to it all is persistence. Whether you choose an all out assault on fat that drastically changes your entire lifestyle, or merely start walking the dog and skipping that side of fries it’s all for nothing if you don’t keep at it. Find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your routine. Find other like-minded individuals and band together to support and encourage each other. Stay positive, stay motivated, and soon you’ll see results you thought impossible! – “Bings”