Article written by Iona Patterson and Mark Lawrence. Iona is a personal trainer and former competitive swimmer based in Glasgow, Scotland. Mark Lawrence, SecretsofSurvival.com’s editor, has added further details to enhance Iona’s article and survival in a post apocalypse.
When governments fall … Survivors rise
Are you ready for a crash course in survival tactics that may one day save your life in the not too distant future? As shown repeatedly in The Walking Dead, “Fight or Flight” is how you can survive an otherwise deadly event — an event where other people are not so lucky.In the modern age most people are like deer caught in a vehicle’s headlights. Facing something devastating, they freeze and die, when all it takes in that moment is reaction (reflexes) and a sudden effort to flee (flight) or defend yourself (fight), or a combination of both.
Relax — we’re not there yet
Thankfully we’re not there yet and the stars and stripes are still America’s symbol. But with all the threats ramping up in the world, that day just might come where the flag of our founding fathers is no longer flying and several of our cities are in ashes. Minus the zombies, our landscape might look a lot like The Walking Dead.
Surviving an apocalyptic disaster
The military has shown again and again how physical fitness can make or break soldiers in a conflict. In a moment you’ll learn several ways functional fitness can make you physically ready for survival and how you can end up dead fast without it, within just the first few minutes of a catastrophic disaster or other event that some say would bring in a post-apocalypse.
Let’s begin …
Reading about survival and understanding what to do when facing a conflict, physical obstacle, or emergency could make the difference between you living or dying that day.Learning survival means being ready for whatever situation you may face, and understanding or improvising the best ways for you to tackle a situation. Functional fitness makes that possible.
If you think you’re too old or too out of shape for fitness, think again. News reports from the health world are showing that even short, intense exercise can have immediate benefits, for the young and elderly both.
Fight or flight … from “The Walking Dead”
However, there is only so much that reading news reports can do for you.
Read more at http://www.secretsofsurvival.com/survival-tips/fight-or-flight-10-deadly-events.html#iWciXjHK3WJLofv0.99
For instance, if there were a zombie apocalypse, a rise of the un-dead or because of the same kind of virus that made AMC’s The Walking Dead a hit show on television, and you were to come face to face with one hundred zombies, you would know that you need to run (hasn’t Hollywood programmed that into our heads by now?).As long as you haven’t froze in overwhelming fear, this is where your inherent “fight or flight” instinct kicks in. You may need to sprint for a short period of time or you may need to run for a long period of time.
Depending on the amount of danger, this could mean hours of constantly moving and running, moving and running.
You may need to walk or hike for hours
Similarly, you may need to walk or hike for hours to reach a safe zone. Walking constantly with potentially minimal food and water can be extremely tiring, even more tiring if it’s summer, the sun is blazing in the sky, and or you’re climbing up hill most of the way. Your blood sugar levels will drop and all you will want to do is sleep. It is important to be trained and ready to walk for a long period of time.
Other dangers you can encounter
If you’re in the northern Rockies and come face to face with a wolf, and don’t have a rifle or sidearm to scare it off, you may have to climb a tree to wait the wolf out. It sounds easy enough but without the necessary skills to do these things, knowing what to do is pointless (wolves typically travel and hunt in packs; so, we may be talking about an entire pack of wolves; a quick loading rifle is prudent in this regard).
Fight or flight … sometimes you may have to fight
In this day and age, attacks in the streets happen regularly in the worst cities and periodically in others. Unless you live and work in a safe area, it’s wise to be physically strong with good reflexes in order to fight an attacker off you and also fast enough to run away, if staying means losing to someone bigger and stronger than you or who is carrying a weapon. We are talking about the “fight” in “fight or flight”; in a survival situation, fight or flight can save your life and it has saved many hundreds of thousands of lives over the centuries.
You can develop your “Fight or Flight” abilities with functional fitness
But, in the modern age, building this level of fitness takes time, effort and dedication. In decades past, with a lot more people walking places, and running places (before automobiles), what we call “functional fitness” was natural for a lot of people. People were also farming, hunting, and performing any manner of what we consider blue collar jobs today.So what do we do today to get that kind of “functional fitness” so we are more ready to run, if running is called for, and ready to fight for our lives, when that is called for also?
“The Walking Dead” zombies are fiction … or are they?
This is why it is important to train your body for survival situations. Zombies that you see in AMC’s The Walking Dead are considered fictional, so the odds of you running from a zombie apocalypse in the near future are pretty slim. But, who knows, anything can happen with the right virus or “doomsday plague” from the heavens.
10 Deadly Events You Should Be Ready and Able to Run From
When taking shelter or some other form of escape isn’t possible, these are events you should be mentally prepared for and capable of running from:
1. Home Invasion
Like it or not, any of us is at risk for a home invasion (though there are a few things that can be done to lower that risk and make yourself less of a tempting target). The suburbs especially are seeing an increase nationwide; those nearest the biggest cities with the highest crime rates are even more likely to be targeted for a home invasion at some point. A home invasion is like a daily lottery; just not one where you want your number picked. If it does happen and your front or back door is suddenly kicked in one night unexpectedly, scrambling to safety, or to a sidearm you have for self defense, means fight or flight in a big way (if that’s not an option, you may end up praying that they take what they want and leave without hurting anyone.)
2. Flash Flood
Like the “1000 year flood” that devastated a region in Colorado, wiping out homes, cutting off towns. As flash flood waters rip out trees and homes and wipe out roads, a scramble up hill to safety may be what saves the day.
As tens of thousands of people have learned the hard way in recent years, catastrophic wildfires can erupt several miles away and suddenly be bearing down on your neighborhood before you’ve had a chance to evacuate. Even Canada is seeing it’s share of catastrophic wildfire, just a few months ago.
Bandits is not just a word from the Wild West days. Bandits (like modern day pirates, except on the sea) are crooks who ambush people on certain streets and alleyways, commit highjackings and literal highway robberies, and sometimes even rob people out in the countryside along a foot trail or dirt road.
5. Terrorist Attack
At a local shopping mall, business district, sporting event, school, restaurant, airport or even a popular beach, terrorists have struck all of these places and more in recent years. Heck, you may even be on a commercial airline, flying the “friendly skies” when suddenly a terrorist pulls a weapon he smuggled on board and starts attacking. 9-1-1 didn’t stop the threat to airlines; potential hijackers have been caught doing “dry runs” on Western airlines, testing security for weaknesses, and you can bet they are looking for ways to plot a major attack. They’re not going to stop.
6. Apocalyptic weather event
Even a rare weather event, such as an inland hurricane called a “Derecho”; remember, if we are facing severe climate change or what many say are end of days judgments of God (perhaps a doomsday plague referenced above), being able to run from a sudden apocalyptic weather event may be what saves your life that day (or maybe it will just be praying for salvation, if these are end of days judgments we’re talking about).
“Something wicked this way comes”
Just like the popular story by Ray Bradbury from several years ago, one day something truly wicked could take place, especially if terrorist and rogue nation aspirations finally occur. What are we talking about?If you live and work in or near a major city, there is another event you need to be able to run from:
7. Running from a WMD
WMD (weapon of mass destruction) – If a terrorist group or other political faction (such as the Russian KGB back in the Cold War days; now called the FSB; a renewed threat as we are in a Cold War with Russia once again) bombs a city with a small nuke, you and a hundred thousand other people will need to run and take immediate shelter; which, if you’re far enough away (but still within proximity to the blast) can be to seek shelter behind a thick wall of brick, concrete, or the far side of a building just as a blast wave levels the city around you.
Life saving tip for a nuclear detonation
The only clue that this is about to happen will be a bright, blinding light high in the sky, signifying the detonation of a nuke somewhere distant; if you look at this bright, blinding light directly, it can blind you permanently, burning the insides of your eyes beyond repair; remember that fact.
Find a fixed wall or ditch to shelter from the blast-wave
So, one day if you suddenly notice that the sky outside your home or work is brighter than the sun, this will be your only warning that a nuke has detonated somewhere distant and your instinct now (you only have a few seconds) needs to be to run and take shelter behind a fixed wall or even take shelter in a depression under the ground (which can even be a ditch if you’re outdoors) so that the blast wave passes over the top of you. Will you survive? That depends on just how far you were from the nuke when it detonated; if you are too close to the blast, you will be vaporized.
Don’t run to the window to look outside
Now, this all applies if you’re outdoors. If you’re indoors and suddenly notice a blinding white light fill up the sky outside your home or building, whatever you do, don’t run to the window to look outside and see what it is; you can be killed by exploding glass shooting through your body as the blast wave finally hits.
Take shelter in the bottom most floor with pre stocked emergency supplies
If you’re inside, what you need to do is seek shelter in the bottom most floor of the building, a basement preferably, where, in optimal conditions, there should be several days of emergency food and water stored, chemical protective masks for a nuclear emergency (for you and others in the building), and several “do it yourself” ways for sealing a room so that fallout from the blast doesn’t contaminate the air inside. If it does, that is likely to lead to radiation poisoning. High doses of radiation can kill you within just days. Lower levels can lead to cancers that don’t show up until several years later. Experts recommend potassium iodate pills be taken within a short time of exposure to reduce the chances of several types of cancer from the radiation.
8. Running from dangerous dogs or even wolves
If we’re talking about loose, dangerous dogs, ensure that you are fit enough to run a safe distance and also fit enough to climb something that can get you off the ground and out of the reach of snapping jaws, such as a tree, or just into the pick-up bed of a parked truck close by. Following any kind of disaster, dangerous dogs can get loose from dog owners as fences are knocked down or doors and windows on homes collapse or are blown inward.
Not just running — climbing also
So, being able to climb a tree, or climb on to the top of a low building, or go over a fence, climb onto a truck, etc., makes “functional fitness” a necessity for survival and something important to incorporate into your life, if you don’t exercise moderately already. This exercise includes endurance, strength, speed and reactions (reflexes and eye hand coordination). More on that in a moment.Remember those wolves mentioned earlier? Nowadays, wolves are more common in northern U.S. states in wilderness regions where wolves have been reintroduced in recent years; these are wilderness regions that a large number of people may head for in the event that disaster has struck major cities; Michigan cities for example, Minnesota cities, Colorado cities, and other towns and cities along the Rockies and in the upper Mid-West states — a number of them will face a threat from wolves if they venture into the forests and countryside (there are even some wolves in the Cascade mountain range in the Pacific Northwest at the time of this writing).
Grizzly bear pepper spray: Proven to save lives
Here’s something else to remember: That recent article published on SecretsofSurvival.com about the top 3 non-lethal weapons of self defense. We covered pepper spray that is highly concentrated and a proven bear deterrent (you can use it on dogs, wolves, and other wildlife also).A Sept. 2015 article in National Geographic is an eye-opener and shows just how many lives have been saved by bear pepper spray when people have had encounters with bears. Bear pepper spray has been proven in countless situations.
National Geographic: How a Potent Pepper Spray Became the Best Bear Repellant
9. Running from a rogue militia or invading army
We’ve seen it depicted on television and the movies in several different ways; we have to remember that rogue militias and invading armies aren’t just something that happens on the screen; major world wars that have taken place in the past and in the modern day the rise of rogue militias in places like the Middle East (ISIS) for example and Boko Haram (an Islamist extremist group in Africa), and the LRA (Lord’s Revolutionary Army, also in Africa) show how ruthless killers can lead violent militias and wreck horrific killings, rapes, and butchering on local populations.In a world growing increasingly violent, and western nations facing so many threats from so many different places, we also one day could see rogue militias and or invading armies come to power here at home. Anything’s possible. As we learned in World War II from the Jews that escaped the Nazis by fleeing into the forests, when there’s no way to fight because we’re outnumbered and out gunned, then it’s time for flight.
10. Running from ruthless gangs and cartels
Step outside of a modern day western nation and step into a third world country, or even just cross the border into Mexico, and you’ll see how easily gangs and cartels can come to power and wreck so much terror into the local population that even the police are too afraid to get in the way.
Endurance Training for Survival
Endurance training is the ability to withstand a difficult situation for a long period of time without giving in. It is so important in survival situations, as if you have low endurance you are likely to fatigue quickly, which may lead to you needing a rest when you simply aren’t able to take one. This really can be the make it or break it in a survival situation. Endurance training is tough, both on the mind and the body. It forces you to push past your boundaries and work at a high level for a long period of time.
Endurance training is built over time
Like most other training styles, endurance training is built over time. For instance, running. You may start off running for 10 minutes without stopping at 10km/hr. Then the next week you may build it up to 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, and then you may take the speed up to 12km/hr. It’s important to build it up and constantly push yourself in order to better the strength of your mind and your fitness.There are many ways to practice endurance training. As we stated previously, you can do cardiovascular training like running and build that up. You can also take part in functional fitness to improve your aerobic capacity.
Training to lift, climb, over and over again
There may be a lot of survival situations where you need to lift things up, climb over objects and climb through things. You need to have enough muscular endurance to take the strain of this. This is why exercises like Tire flips, ball slams and assault courses in general are extremely good for your muscular and CV endurance.Example “do it at home” assault course:
Tire flips (60 seconds)
Burpees (60 seconds)
Bear crawl (60 seconds)
Squat jumps (60 seconds)
This is a fairly simple “do it at home” assault course for you to try. Start off doing each exercise for 60 seconds taking minimal rest between exercises. You can even add a weighted backpack to make it more realistic. Increase the working time each time you do this circuit. Eg. start with 60 seconds, then increase the time to 90 seconds, then 120…
Swimming is also a fantastic sport to practice to increase your endurance and aerobic capacity. This is because it uses all of your muscles when you are working. Swimming helps to increase your lung capacity as your lungs begin to adapt to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and cells.
Holding your breath longer
Again, you can start off swimming as you did with the running. Start by swimming four lengths without stopping, then increase this to six, then to eight etc. Ensure that you are swimming with your head down so that you can get the benefit of having to hold your breath and therefore making your lungs adapt and improve.
Swimming without goggles
Try swimming without goggles on. Remember, in a survival situation where you may need to swim you are not necessarily going to have goggles on. Get your eyes used to the water and yourself used to swimming without them.
Strength training is also extremely important when it comes to survival situations; remember, sometimes you can be thrown suddenly into a “fight or flight” event. It could be a workplace shooting or a home invasion robbery one evening. These things happen and will continue to happen. Another real life event, if you recall, was one of the 9-1-1 flights when passengers fought back against the hijackers on one of the planes that eventually crashed without hitting any targets.Finally, look back to one of the examples we gave earlier. If you came face to face with a predatory wolf, you would need to either act aggressive and show it you are not easy meat, or you may need to climb a tree to wait it out.
The idea of climbing a tree seems easy to many, as they remember in their childhood when they used to do it regularly. However, many individuals do not realize how much upper body strength it takes to pull up your own weight. It is important to practice exercises like monkey bars and pull ups to strengthen your back and arms which will allow you to pull yourself up in times of need.
Strength training for self defense
Strength can also be important for self defense. You need to be able to fight off strangers and protect yourself. Exercises for your upper body in the gym such as shoulder press and bench press will increase your power and strength through your chest and shoulders. Remember, that statistically, most fights “go to the ground” and this is this where having more strength than your attacker means you can overpower and wrestle him for a choke or other fight ender where the opponent gives up (unless this is a matter of life or death).
Example strength workout you can do in the gym:
Squats 4 sets of 8 repsDeadlifts 4 sets of 8 reps
Bench Press 4 sets of 8 reps
Shoulder Press 4 sets of 8 reps
Medicine ball slams 4 sets of 8 reps
Dumbbell (or kettlebell) powercleans (4 sets of 8 reps)
Sports like boxing and kickboxing will help with this too. You can focus on increasing the power of your punch and kick. Power and strength lie hand in hand when it comes to self defense. You need to be strong enough to hold someone off you, however you need to have the power to fight them back. Practicing a combination of weight training and explosive anaerobic training (boxing — when you push yourself for brief intervals) will set you up to succeed in surviving an attack.
Effective close quarters combat
If you want to take these basic reasons for strength training to the next level, self defense courses like Krav Maga can boost your ability to defend yourself, teaching you several “fight ending” moves that enable a person to put down an attacker in just seconds .
Fast twitch muscle fibers make you faster
In addition to building strength, you can start incorporating higher rep exercises in short, intense sequences in order to build more “fast twitch” muscle fibers, which makes you faster in a conflict overall. This builds our:
Speed and Reactions
Speed is an extremely important aspect of fitness which can be a powerful tool in a survival emergency. Being able to get yourself out of a dangerous situation quickly could increase your chances of survival drastically. It is important to practice training for speed in different environments.You cannot predict what might happen and where, so you need to be ready for anything.
Change up your strength training routine to start training for speed:
Dumbbell powercleans (30 reps, fast pace, light weight)
Pull downs (50 reps, fast pace, light weight)
One arm dumbbell rows (30 reps, fast pace, light weight). Use enough weight so you can complete your rep goals but not too light of weight that you’re not fatigued on your last set.
Speed and Reactions in AMC’s The Walking Dead…
In a previous season, a character nicknamed “Jesus” by other characters and a member of a local group called the “Saviors” (in the show Jesus got his nickname apparently because of his long hair, beard, and fair features), demonstrates how fast reflexes enhance his abilities to defend himself, and also enhance his knowledge of martial arts. Whether you practice martial arts, or not, speed and fast reflexes (reaction time) can increase your ability to either defend yourself, duck, or simply to recognize an incoming attack and get out of the way.
Practice running the woods and hillside
Practicing hill sprints and running through woods is a great place to start. This will allow you to train in hard conditions which will ensure that you are physically fit to tackle anything (plus you get the second benefit of becoming a natural obstacle runner, and now flight through the trees can become second nature with enough experience; most people who would pursue you into the woods simply won’t be able to keep up or handle all the obstacles that are now instinctive for you.)
More on hill sprints
The added incline makes the sprint that much harder on both your lungs and your muscles; that’s a good thing. When doing these it is important to practice different durations of sprints as to work every training system and make sure you are as physically fit as you can be.If you stick with one duration (eg. 20 seconds) your body will adapt to that time frame but not anything else, so if you had to sprint for 40 seconds, you would fatigue very quickly after those 20 seconds.
Example hill sprint workout:
20 second sprint – 20 seconds rest
40 seconds sprint – 40 seconds rest
60 seconds sprint – 60 seconds rest
40 second sprint – 40 seconds rest
20 second sprint – 20 second rest
You can do 1-3 times through. The more times you do it, the more it will also build your endurance and aerobic capacity as well are your speed. Try and vary the incline that you choose to run on. This will allow you to run faster on lower inclines, and drive through your legs more on the higher inclines.
You can also practice sprints through the woods, which will help you with your awareness of your surroundings. It is important to know what you are stepping on, and avoid any branches or dangerous looking spots. You must be able to do this while running as fast as you can, so practicing this will make all the difference.
Increasing your Reaction Time
Reactions are equally as important as speed in a survival situation. You need to be fast reacting to be able to decide quickly what actions to take and how to escape the trouble you’ve found yourself in. The more that you train or practice, the more this can become “instinctive” or second nature.Sports like boxing again are great for working on your mind to muscle connection and building up your reaction speed. Another great sport to practice is squash.
Squash is a very fast moving sport, and you need to be focussed in order to return the ball back and be ready to hit again. It will help you to improve your focus while improving your reaction speed.
While training for a survival situation, recovery is the most important thing. To increase your endurance, strength, speed and reaction time your body must have time to rest and recover.Each aspect of fitness that we have spoken about is very demanding on the body, once you’ve moved past a beginning state. They each require huge amounts of energy and place a large stress on the body. In order for you to better yourself within your training, you must have sufficient rest to allow your body to recover.
Exercise for the elderly
New research in recent years has health experts advising that the elderly (those who are frail or in at-risk health initially need physician’s guidance first before starting any exercise program) can help rejuvenate their brains and muscles by using a period of daily fasting (partial fasting), whey protein supplementation, and short workouts (3 times per week) and at durations less than ten minutes per day.
Which whey protein?
Health experts recommend a high quality whey protein, preferably GMO free, from grass fed cows, and one that is free of addities and sugar. A high quality whey protein provides high amounts of an important amino acid called leucine, which, in these high amounts, helps boost muscle growth and recovery in a cost effective way that allows you to avoid heavy calories.In other words, you would have to eat 1.5 pounds of chicken or 3000 calories worth of almonds to get the amount of leucine that you can get in whey protein. So, it’s not only better for you for building muscle, it is a cost effective way to become stronger and faster.
Whey protein considered an essential prep by many
A lot of preppers and survivalists are well familiar with whey protein and consider it an essential part of their disaster preps for long term survival.
Partial fasting helps keep us younger, more healthy
What this is doing is mimicking our body’s natural response to a more natural way of eating (before the calorie-rich diet of the modern age), as well as getting our body into a catabolic state as a result of the fasting (in a safe way that works in our favor); in this catabolic state for the early part of the day during a partial fast it gives our body the opportunity to eliminate dead brain and muscle cells that are always forming. This is said to help “rejuvenate” our brain and muscles both, effectively slowing down the aging clock (read the full article here). If you haven’t heard this before, apparently that’s because this is only recent news that’s come out from the world of health and fitness.
No time for exercise? Good news: Short duration exercise can work greater benefits
Finally, all people can benefit from short, explosive exercise, such as cranking up the resistance on an exercise bike and pedaling as fast as you can for 30 seconds (high intensity interval training – HIIT).For people who hate exercise this is good news. They’re telling us that the long durations of exercise can leave us in a permanent state of burn out and actually age us faster. Shorter exercise sessions, on the other hand, are not only easier, but can help keep us younger, and are more “natural” for our body to respond to.
Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of recovery there is. If you are not eating sufficient amounts then your body will not be able to fuel itself to repair. The body works in two states: anabolic and catabolic. When the body is catabolic it breaks down cells for fuel. So if you are in a catabolic state for a long period of time, you can lose a lot of muscle.It is important to be eating the fuel your body needs to keep yourself energized, especially after exercise. You should try and eat within 30 minutes to two hours after your session. If you have exercised, then it is important to eat within a 30 minute window.
Before exercise, you should try to have snack which is high in fats and carbohydrates to fuel your session.
Snack idea: 2x slices of toast with 20g peanut butter and 50g banana.
After exercise, you should have a mix between protein, carbs and fat. Protein and carbs will allow your body to refuel and recover quicker especially consumed close to exercise. Lastly, read food labels closely, opting for natural foods as much as possible with the least amount of additives.
Following exercise: Smoothies can give you fast-absorbing vitamins, minerals, protein
Immediately following exercise is a great opportunity for some easy healthy foods: You can mix a handful of frozen pineapple chunks, sesame seeds, macadamia nuts (which contain an oil that helps with vitamin absorption), spinach, yogurt and whey protein powder and throw it all in a blender for an excellent recovery smoothie (you’ll get healthy fats, lots of vitamins and minerals, and a good dose of protein to help repair those muscles you’ve just worked).
Sleep enhances recovery
One aspect of recovery that is hugely important is sleep. while you sleep your body repairs and grows your muscles and makes the appropriate changes to make you bigger, better and stronger. Try to make sure that throughout the week you are getting on average at least 7 hours of sleep per night. This will ensure that you have the correct hormone balance and that you are physically and psychologically ready to exercise again.
Active recovery is also extremely important for your body to adapt. This includes going for long walks, easy cardio (like swimming) and stretching/foam rolling.This helps you to promote blood flow to the inflamed area which will help it to repair. When you feel sore and tired, this is because your muscles have broken down. In order to fix them, the body will regrow them stronger and bigger (hence how people grow muscle).
If you do not give your body sufficient time to recover, it will not be able to rebuild muscles and this can lead to extreme fatigue, burn out, and even injury. Fitness experts repeatedly tell people of all ages to supplement with a good whey protein powder (one without sugar or additives) and nowadays supplements like maca (Peruvian ginseng) are also recommended to give yourself a fitness edge (maca boosts endurance by boosting your body’s natural hormones, in a way turning back the clock a few years.) Finally, “montmorency cherries” have an ingredient shown to reduce muscle soreness so that you recover even faster from those workouts.
If you’re a survival enthusiast, then why not incorporate some of these workouts and exercises right at home and on a hillside or nearby park? It is important to be physically fit when caught in a survival situation; having enough endurance, speed, strength and reaction time could make the difference in helping you to survive.Remember, these workouts are not for the faint hearted. They are tough and will test your mental and physical fitness. Start lightly at first. Health experts are even saying that older folks can benefit from short, intense exercises … you don’t have to kill yourself in the gym with 60 minute work outs … even just 5-10 minutes can start turning back the clock for your body and building lean muscle. So, just 5-10 minute workouts (with periods of short intense bursts lasting 30 seconds with 90 second recovery time at a slow, light pace) is enough to help you have “functional fitness” to face whatever tomorrow may bring our way.
3 – 4 times per week. This will allow you to progress and grow stronger week after week, month after month.