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April is Physical Wellness Month, making it a great time to consider your own health and fitness. There’s more to physical wellness than having a toned, swimsuit-ready body. Physical wellness or fitness can be truly life-changing. In many cases, even small improvements can have a big impact. Improving your fitness level is also an important part of preparedness.
In preparedness circles, we’ve all seen article after article and video after video of the latest gear, bug-out bags, freeze-dried meals, and more. However, a topic that receives little fanfare is physical wellness and improving our fitness level as part of our preparedness efforts. Personally, I believe fitness, health, and wellness are important parts of preparedness and life in general.
I didn’t always prioritize fitness, health, and wellness. Not until my own health took a terrible turn. It took years – years – for me to begin to feel like myself again. One of the things that helped me on my road to recovery was movement. Not exercise (not in the beginning at least, as I was too ill for that), but simple things like slow walks and stretching as I eased myself into physical wellness.
In the years since then, I’ve found the need to stay focused on fitness. In my case, sliding back to my old ways results in not only the dreaded weight gain but other issues such as nighttime cramping and general lethargy. Another huge benefit I’ve found with focused fitness is the mental health aspect. There is a very real association between exercise and the reduction of anxiety, depression, mood swings, and more.
Physical Wellness and Preparedness
When speaking specifically about fitness and preparedness, there are many reasons why I believe the two go hand in hand. Here are just a few, but I’m sure you can think of more:
- Cutting/chopping wood
- Gardening/growing food for survival
- Hunting wild game (you’ll be carrying a weapon and a pack)
- Butchering large animals
- Evacuating on foot (likely carrying an overloaded pack)
- Running away from someone/something/somewhere
- Lifting/carrying heavy things such as water, wood, or rocks (for a variety of reasons)
- Carrying a wounded person (adult or child)
- Dragging a person (or the game you hunted)
- Hand-to-hand combat/fighting to preserve your life
While some of these items require additional skills other than just being fit, all start with some level of fitness.
For the last several years, I’ve been taking martial arts lessons. One of the things we do in martial arts is sparring. This is, essentially, a controlled fight with safety measures and gear in place.
A sparring match has very specific rules and time limits. I currently train in Taekwondo, which has three sparring rounds of one minute each during a match. One minute doesn’t sound like long, until you’re in a competition! It’s truly exhausting.
While a street fight is not likely to last the same length of time as a controlled match (many of these are over in well under a minute). physical wellness is still smart. Being able to run away from a potentially dangerous situation is also helpful.
If you are new to concentrated movement, *start slow. Don’t try and go from the couch to hours of exercise each day, that’s a good way to injure yourself. If you aren’t used to movement and exercise, walking is an excellent place to start. Get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and take a nice slow stroll around the block. Start with ten minutes.
Increase the time you walk as you’re able to. Once you’re up to, say, thirty minutes maybe increase the speed. Concentrate on either speed or distance until you’re happy with how far you’re going and your pace. Then switch it up again.
In my opinion, walking outside is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and well-being. Walking not only increases lower body and core strength but also arm strength when you swing your arms. This also helps support circulation and improves immune function.
Gentle stretches are also amazing for health, not just as dedicated daily stretching or mat program, but by adding stretches to your normal day-to-day activities. Bending over to load the dishwasher? Can you add a leg stretch? Brushing you’re teeth? Can you swing the other arm at the same time to loosen that up? I highly recommend the Healthy Moving program for not only movement classes but also ideas on working movement into your daily life. Sign up for the newsletter here.
Whatever you can do, do. Being healthier is always a good thing.
What are your suggestions for adding physical wellness to your preparedness efforts?
*As a disclaimer, you should probably not only start slow but also consult a personal medical professional before beginning an exercise program. Anything mentioned in this article is my opinion only and should not be construed as anything resembling medical advice.