Prep Smartz Academy Article

Fitness is part of emergency preparation

Achieving and maintaining good health is an often-overlooked element in emergency preparation.  It is common to associate a stockpile of batteries and canned food with emergency planning, but being healthy is something to include in your plan.  Hopefully you have completed your menu planning with nutrition in mind.  A link to an article on menu planning is provided at the end of this article.  Finding time and energy to exercise is the biggest hurdle to clear in getting started on a healthy lifestyle.

Being a common working Joe, I faced the same dilemma.  By the time I arrived home from work.  I just wanted to stop making decisions and being productive.  Our typical evening was popping a DVD movie in the player and sitting for a couple hours, taking a walk in the park, then start another movie.  After the movie, I would frequently say to my wife, in the neighboring lounger, “Well, there goes two hours of my life that I will never get back.  Occasionally, we would do some exercises while watching a movie.

It wasn’t always that way.  When our kids were in school, our evenings were filled with a variety of activities.  In addition to the school activities, we would listen to them rehearse speeches and presentations, practice musical instruments and work with them on building projects.  There wasn’t time to get in a movie-watching rut. 

Find a starting point

A good part of sitting in front of the boob tube is: you can get some ideas as your mind drifts from a predictable storyline.  That’s where I developed the idea to exercise at my desk.  This revelation happened to parallel the beginning of an unseasonably hot June. It occurred, to me, that I could develop a simple exercise routine at my desk.  Normally, I force myself to take a walk outside in the morning, lunch time and in the afternoon.  With the blistering heat of the summer, I stopped walking.  Replacing the walks with exercise routines, seemed like a good alternative.

During this time, I was also working out some plantar fasciitis issues.  That included setting on my ankles followed by a massage of my feet.  While I was on the floor, it was a natural extension to do some push-ups.  I started with one set of 10 push-ups.  That led to squats between sets of push-ups.  Within a couple months, I was doing three sets of twenty push-ups and three sets of twenty squats.  I repeated that routing in the afternoon.  When the weather became tolerable, I resumed my walks and continued my desk-side exercises.  My routine can be completed in five to seven minutes.  I work on a university campus and enjoy walking outside.  When the weather is unfavorable, I have options for walking indoors. 

There are many student organizations on campus.  The Arnold Air Society is part of the Air Force ROTC program.  It is a service organization.  One of their fundraising activities is doing push-up for donations.  The typical donation is one dollar for ten push-ups.

As I was on a morning walk, I passed the Arnold Air Society push-up station.  I stopped and proposed three sets of seventeen push-ups for five dollars.  That was acceptable and they dropped to the front leaning position.  I said, “Wait for me!”  The cadets were amazed as this old man dropped and joined them to knock out fifty-one push-ups. 

Initially, exercising at my desk was a little awkward.  I try to complete my routine at a time when everyone is out of my office suite.  That doesn’t always work.  One time the third-highest university officer bound into our suite while I was exercising.  As he hurried past me, on the floor, he said that he exercised that morning, too. 

Desk-side exercises

Some desk-side exercise can include:

  • Forward lunges
  • Rear lunges
  • Push-ups – these can also be done on a rail or stable desk.  It’s easier and may be a good beginning exercise
  • Squats
  • Dips – sometime called reverse push-up
  • Various muscle and joint stretches
  • Various yoga positions

Establish a schedule

The key to this approach is to establish a regular schedule.  Mine schedule is 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.  You may need to adjust to accommodate meetings and other commitments. If you have a baseline schedule, it is easier to recover from schedule conflicts.  In some situations, you can arrive at your meeting location early and complete your exercise routine before anyone arrives.  Without a schedule, it’s too easy to postpone your exercise until you get to a “good stopping point”.

It worked for me

At an annual well-man physical exam, my doctor said, “You’re in great shape for forty-eight.”  I was fifty-eight at the time!  A healthy diet and some exercise has been touted by health advisors for years.  Even with the minimal exercise that I do, it seems to be effective.


Being physically fit puts you in a better position for weathering many challenges during an emergency.  It could enable you to carry more provisions, move from a dangerous situation faster with more agility, help carry wounded, etc. Some feel that being physically fit also helps you through stressful conditions.

That’s my story.  It is wise to have a medical doctor examine and approve an exercise program.  Starting slowly and gradually increasing the repetitions and intensity has worked well for me.  I have tried the gym membership.  It just didn’t work for me – too much travel time.  Starting a five-minute routine is easy to do and repeat.  It may not be the optimal body building approach, but it can work.  Your situation is unique, so be sure to begin with a medical doctor’s approval.

Menu planning

Menu planning is a compliment to exercise and emergency planning.  Maintaining good fitness includes a balanced and modestly proportioned diet.  Planning your meals is a benefit for fitness and emergency planning.  See the article listed below for more information about meal planning.


 roger eaton

By Roger Eaton

Over thirty years of experience in information technology and over seventeen years of experience in emergency services converged to inspire Eaton to develop Prep Smartz, emergency management software and Prep Smartz Academy.

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