5 Basic Fitness Skills That Could Save Your Life

By Lee Bellinger / November 12, 2013

Five Overlooked Prepper Skills
to Master Now

Emergency cash, food, water, shelter – they’re all critically important. But when you’re faced with a sustained economic collapse, an intense bout of social chaos, a natural disaster, or a home invasion… your level of physical fitness could be what determines the outcome… right down to whether or not you even survive.
But what level of physical fitness makes sense for a practical person of any age making an effort to become more self-reliant? Let’s face it, you’ll probably never have to run a marathon or swim the English Channel. Extreme fitness is not the goal.
Instead, we want to take a look at real, practical physical skills that could save your life in any number of unexpected situations.
We urge you to carefully read and consider each point. Yes, they take some effort, but the reward can be great – it’s your very life that may be at stake.

Basic Fitness Skills
That Could Save Your Life

Running   and Sprinting
Running and Sprinting: You’ll hardly ever find yourself in a situation where distance running is imperative. In a scenario where you don’t have any other transportation and you have to evacuate, walking will usually do the trick, especially if you can get on foot quickly and ahead of the crowd. However, if you do have to hurry, you should be able to run a mile. You don’t need to do this at a breakneck pace. But being able to cover a mile in less than eight minutes is a good goal.
You’re much more likely to encounter a situation that demands sprinting. Think of it this way… sprinting equals the ability to get out of the way. Falling tree? Sprint. Out-of-control car? Sprint. A bus is bearing down on a child? Sprint. We bet you could come up with countless situations where being able to run very fast in a short burst could save your life or allow you to save the life of another.
Training to Run: Training to run a mile is a simple process, but it can take time depending on your current levels of fitness. First, mark off a mile distance. (If you have a high school nearby, four laps around the track is a mile.) Begin by running at a moderate pace. Run as much of the mile as you can. When you can’t run any more, walk the rest. In two days, go out to run the mile again and try to run a little farther than you did in your previous effort.
Add a little bit of distance each time, and in a few weeks, you’ll be able to complete a mile in a single run.
Training to sprint is easier and more fun. Mark off a 200-meter distance (half of an athletic track) and run it as fast as you can. Time yourself to set a benchmark. Then whenever you go out to run attempt to beat, or at least match, your best time.
A good skill set to add to your walking and running ability is knowledge of local hiking trails. Knowing them adds to your options in determining potential escape routes.
Swimming
Swimming: Today, ten Americans will drown. Oddly, men are nearly four times as likely to drown as women. Being able to swim confidently in a stressful situation for at least a half a mile is an imperative prepper skill. If you find yourself in the water unexpectedly and have never learned how to inflate your clothing or get out of your clothes immediately (starting with your shoes). Whatever you’re wearing or carrying, even your wallet, can be replaced; you cannot. For more tips on reducing drowning risks, see the CDC website.
Training to Swim: Find a local pool that offers lap swim hours. At least once a week, go to the pool and swim laps for 30 minutes. Work each week to go a little farther in that same amount of time. Feel free to switch strokes as you swim. The Australian crawl, breaststroke, and backstroke are all good for moving through the water. Millions of U.S. military vets learned to swim in the Navy. Check out the requirements at the Navy’s website.
Chin Ups: Whether you’re hiking with your grandkids or working on your roof, should you fall over any kind of ledge, being able to do a chin up is what will save you from injury or death. Actually, we don’t advise that you ever work on your roof unless you are trained to do so. Hiring a professional handyman may not be cheap, but falling off your roof can be fatal.
Training for Chin Ups: The best way to train for chin ups is to do them. You can find chin-up bars at many parks or gyms. Or you can purchase one that will fit into a doorway in your home. Grip the bar with your palms facing toward you and using your arm strength, lift yourself until your chin comes parallel with the bar. Try not to swing your body for momentum – you want to focus on building arm strength.
If you can’t do a chin-up at first, try a flexed arm hang. Using a chair, start with your chin even with the bar. Kick the chair away and lower your body, until your elbows make a right angle. Hold that position for as long as you can.
Push Ups
Push Ups and Dead Lifts: Being able to lift heavy objects is an immensely practical skill and one that can come in handy in everyday situations and in emergencies. Whether you’re helping a friend move or need to lift a fallen tree limb off your neighbor, push-ups and dead lifts are the best way to build strength for these kinds of situations.
Training for Lifting: Begin by doing as many push-ups as you can. Do them three times a week. Then week by week, try to do one to three more during each set. If you can’t do a standard push-up to start out, try resting your knees on the floor rather than balancing on your toes.
For a deadlift, you’ll need a barbell or some kind of weight. Stand with your feet right at the weight. Bending at the knees, grip the weight with both hands. Keep your spine straight and your head in line. Use the strength of your legs to pull the weight from the floor. Once it is above your knees, you’ll straighten your legs and your chest will come forward so that you’re standing upright with the weight at your thighs.
Choose a weight you can lift confidently with proper form. Three times a week, do three sets of ten dead lifts. Slowly add to the weight as you get stronger. For safety, ask a friend or family member to be your spotter; better yet, train together and spot for one another.
Balancing on One Leg
Balance: Above and beyond feats of strength and tests of your endurance, the one physical skill that will keep you getting injured both during everyday activities and in emergencies, is better balance. Better balance reduces your chance of taking a fall, will help you navigate difficult situations, and is proven to reduce injuries in active people by as much as 40 percent.
Begin increasing your balance by standing on one foot for as long as possible. Do this regularly until you can maintain steady balance for at least a minute. Another good exercise is to place a narrow plank on the floor – one that is about four inches wide and at least six feet long – and attempt to walk from one end to the other without falling off.
A third way to improve balance is with a wobble board. A wobble board has a ball on the bottom with a platform that you stand on. It’s an unstable surface that requires you to constantly shift your balance so that you don’t fall off.
Before starting any new training regimen, you should talk to your doctor, but once you get the go ahead, start working on these fitness skills. Each of these exercises can make you healthier and fit. Train with a friend or a loved one for motivation and safety.
You’ll become more self-reliant and better prepared to deal with emergencies.