Monday, July 29, 2019

Survival Basics...

No matter how experienced we are, or how advanced our preparations, it never hurts to go back and review the basics. That is what this article is about - a review of the basics of survival.

Survival Basics

In any dangerous situation, our first goal is to survive. So, it is worth asking the question, what do we really need to survive? I've come up with a list of six items:
  • Air that is safe to breathe.
  • Water that is safe to drink.
  • Food that is safe to eat.
  • Protection from the elements.
  • Protection from physical threats.
  • Ability to deal with injuries and disease.

That's it. Those are the things we need in order to live. Of course, there are other things that would be nice to have, that would allow us to survive easier and with comfort, and even to thrive. But this article is about what we need to live - the basics of survival.

Now, lets take a deeper look at each of these basic necessities. 

Air that is safe to breathe.

Oxygen. Without it we can only survive for a few minutes. Luckily, its in the air all around us (unless we are under water or in outer space). But, it is not always safe to breathe. There are times that the air is so polluted it can be dangerous. Remember what the air was like in the vicinity of the  9/11 tragedy. And many large cities around the world have air so dirty from vehicle and industry exhaust that residents are often warned to stay inside and to wear masks if they must go out. Its not just pollution and smoke that can make air dangerous to breathe, but also biological and chemical agents. 

Consider your particular circumstances and concerns. Do you live in a place where serious air pollution is a problem? Or near factories or power plants that may  accidentally release chemicals, radiation, or other toxins into the air? If so, you may want to move to a safer location. Concerned about nuclear threats? Don't live near nuclear power plants or military targets. Concerned about pandemics (avoid high population densities) or biological warfare? Read up on nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) preparedness. 

At a minimum, I suggest everyone have several surgical masks (on Amazon: currently $9.99 for 100) at home and the office, and in their bug-out bags, get-home bags, and vehicles. More committed survivalists may consider adding gas masks to their supplies for more complete NBC protection.

Water that is safe to drink.

We can only survive a couple of days at the most without water (and dying of thirst is a particularly miserable and painful way to die). Storing water is a top priority for survival, but water is incredibly bulky and heavy. We also need to have the ability to collect and treat water. Pollution, germs, parasites, and other toxins can make water unsafe to drink, so filtering and treating water we collect is extremely important. 

A personal water filter is something we should have in our bug-out bags and get-home bags or car kits. There are many different ones available to choose from, so pick one that suits your needs and lifestyle. A larger water filter for the home is a good idea, too. 

See my article Emergency Water Storage for a complete guide.

Food that is safe to eat.

The good news is that we can live many weeks, or even months if we are otherwise healthy, without food. The bad news is it won't be fun. And the lack of food will negatively impact our concentration, focus, physical coordination, reflexes, and energy-levels, as well as compromise our immune system. Not good in a survival situation, or any other situation for that matter. 

The typical recommendation from FEMA and similar groups is to have three days of food in our bug-out or survival packs, and two weeks worth of food at home. Both of these recommendations fall way short, in my opinion. Strive for at least one week's food in your bug-out bag. And at home, I would consider two month's worth of food storage to be the absolute minimum. Serious survivalists typically aim for at least one year or more worth of food. (Book Recommendation: Peggy Layton's Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook.) 

Protection from the elements. 

The elements - cold, heat, wind, rain, ice - can kill a healthy person in a matter of hours, or less, under certain conditions. Dry, warm clothing, gloves, blankets, rain gear, and some form of shelter aren't just nice to have in a survival situation, they can be critical. In addition to a change of clothes, try to include a sleeping bag and a tent with the bug-out bag. In the winter, I keep a large blanket and extra gloves and toboggans in my vehicles. Tarps also have many uses, including temporary shelter.

A Go-Time Life Bivy (available on Amazon) or other emergency sleeping bag/shelter may be a compact and low-weight alternative to include in your bug-out bag or to carry in your vehicle. 

Protection from physical threats.

Most likely, physical threats will come from our fellow man (desperate people do desperate things), but may also come from dangerous wildlife (bears, wolves, feral dogs, poisonous snakes). We need to have the ability to defend ourselves (guns & ammo being typically the most effective means, but certainly not the only means), and the training to do so effectively. Pay particular attention to the "training" part of that statement. That's something you have to do BEFORE you need it.

Ability to deal with injuries and disease.

This means both prevention and treatment. Proper equipment (gloves, work boots, safety glasses, etc.), as well as common sense, will go a long way to preventing many injuries. See my article Preppers' Guide to Workshop and DIY Safety for more on safety and injury prevention.

First aid training and supplies are critical. Get training now, rather than trying to read a first aid manual while someone is bleeding out. We should include a small individual first aid kit as part of our every-day carry. A larger, more complete kit should be with the bug-out bag. A first aid kit can also be carried in our vehicles. Our homes and bug-out retreat (if we have one), should be fully stocked with first aid and medical supplies at all times.  

Don't forget about your prescription medications. Work with your doctor to get extra medication to include in your bug-out bags. Sometimes they can write 90-day prescriptions instead of the typical 30-day, or even authorize an early refill if you are "going out-of-town" for a few weeks (it all depends on what the medication is, what the state law is, and what your doctor is willing to do).

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Chinese Court Upholds Pastor John Cao’s Prison Sentence

Here's an update from International Christian Concern (ICC) regarding Pastor John Cao being held without normal due process by Chinese authorities, which I reported on earlier this month (see my article China Continues to Hold North Carolina Pastor John Cao).  For more details regarding Cao's mistreatment by the Chinese government, please see my earlier article. --Tim Gamble

Chinese Court Upholds Pastor John Cao’s Prison Sentence

Sentence Upheld After Repeated Delays on Appeal Hearing 

07/25/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 25, a court in China’s Yunnan province announced its decision to uphold Pastor John Cao’s seven-year prison sentence, despite his appeal. 

Pastor Cao filed an appeal for being wrongfully convicted for “organizing illegal border crossings” in 2018. However, the Chinese government has postponed his appeal hearing seven times. Many believe that he was unjustly targeted due to his Christian faith.

In photos shared by China Aid, the court can be seen heavily guarded by the police today. Only Cao’s 83-year-old mother and his sister, along with their lawyer, were allowed to hear the verdict.

The court’s latest verdict came after Pastor Cao’s lawyers received a notice on July 12, stating that Cao’s appeal would be handled via a “trial session on paper only,” instead of an actual hearing.

Pastor Cao dedicated himself to serving the impoverished people of Myanmar’s self-governed Wa State, providing much needed education and humanitarian aid to them before his 2017 arrest.

Father Francis Liu from Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness said on Twitter, “Although we have been praying for Pastor Cao, I also know that the CCP will not let him go, as was predetermined by their anti-Christ nature. It’s not possible for us to place our hope in CCP to uphold justice.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “The unjust trial and trumped up charges against Pastor John Cao once again demonstrate the disregard for rule of law and religious freedom in China. Beijing’s crackdown against Christianity should not be tolerated or ignored. The international community must continue speaking out for oppressed churches and Christians in order to stop their suffering.” 

Source: Press release from International Christian Concern dated July 25, 2019.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Random Ideas to Enhance Everyday Survival

This article isn't about wilderness survival, homesteading, or surviving some dread apocalypse. Instead, I share some random ideas that may enhance everyday survival.

Live as near to where you work as possible. Let's face it, most of us aren't independently wealthy, so we have to work for a living. Long commutes between home and work are common these days, but are a mistake from an everyday survival point-of-view. There are many advantages to living near your workplace - you can save time, gas money, and wear & tear on your car. In an emergency, you can get home quicker and more safely. You might even get a discount on your auto insurance, saving money you can spend on your preps, paying off debt, or building an emergency fund. Walking distance from work is ideal. Or only minutes away via car or public transport.

Know your way around your location, particularly the areas in which you live, work, shop, worship, and go to school. Also, know where the bad neighborhoods and high crime areas near you are, and how to avoid them. Know several escape routes from where you live should bugging-out ever become necessary or even mandatory. Have paper copies of directions and maps, in case GPS & Google Maps are down when you need them.

Always maintain at least one vehicle in excellent condition. Keep up with routine maintenance, get needed repairs done as quickly as possible, and make sure your tires are in good condition. Doing these things will mean less break downs and will save you money in the long run. Also, keep the gas tank topped off II never let my tanks dip down below the halfway mark. If possible to safely do so, keep at least one 5-gallon can of gas on hand for emergencies (rotate it on a regular basis). Even if you can't store the gas safely, keep an empty can on hand just-in-case. Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle, including items such as some food and water, first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, extra oil, and jumper cables or battery starter. For winter, include extra gloves and head/neck coverings. A warm blanket is also a good idea, as is a power bar for your phone.

Take commonsense precautions to secure your home and vehicle. Find ways to make it more difficult for bad guys to break in. Keep doors
Wedge Door Alarm
and windows locked. Make use of steering wheel bars and door alarms. Have working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers to protect your family and home from fire. Install a steel security door. Consider a security system or a doorbell with camera and monitor. Consider owning a handgun or home defense shotgun (legally and safely, of course, and get well-trained!). The Shooter's Bible Guide to Home Defense may provide more information.
I use Aqua-Tainers for my water storage.
5) Store some water, and have a way to filter/treat water.  Water takes up a lot of space, but try to keep at least one week's worth on hand at all times. Two weeks is even better. Tap water may be available, but not safe to drink (just as the folks in Flint, Michigan). You may need to filter/treat your tap water.

Be smart when out in public. Pay attention to your surroundings. Be wary of people who look out-of-place, are loitering, seem to be paying close attention to you, or who act nervous. Shop in groups. Let people know where you are going and when to expect you back. Keep your phone fully charged. Use well-light and highly visible parking spaces. Before getting out of a car or walking out of a building, look out a window first to identify possible dangers. Don't get so involved with your smart phone that you ignore your surroundings. Always be alert.

Also, know how to not look like a victim. This is somewhat similar to being the gray man, but not exactly. Don't make yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car.  Don't make yourself a target by appearing easy prey - always wear practical clothes and shoes, pay attention to your surroundings, and walk confidently, head up. Practice situational awareness, which is more than just paying attention, although that is the starting point.

Own some tools. Tools are wonderful inventions that allow us to do more than we could with just our hands. Everyone needs tools. Here are some recommendations: 
  • A good pocket knife is something most folks should carry (mine is a Swiss Army Knife, but pick whatever best suits your life and needs.). 
  • A multitool is a great addition to anyone's EDC and I highly recommend getting one (I always carry my Leatherman on my belt). 
  • A multi-bit screwdriver is also quite handy, so carry one in your bag, briefcase, or EDC kit. 
  • I've also found that a good pair of scissors is very useful to have on hand. Carry one in your briefcase or bag. 
Of course, you should a good tool kit at home, even if you live in a small apartment. For what to include, please see my article Basic Starter Tool Kit.

Practical, useful shoes are an everyday must. Not just shoes, but useful shoes. Shoes you can walk in, run in, climb in, and will protect your feet. So, not high heels, sandals, clogs, or flip flops. Not even wingtips. Sure, you may need these type shoes for work, but you should always have a pair of more practical shoes with you for when you need them. Perhaps keep them in your car? Or a spare pair at work? I'm lucky enough to not have to dress up for work, so my everyday shoes are hiking shoes, which are a great compromise between athletic shoes and work boots. Of course, I also have work boots at home for when I need them.

Self-defense is a skill everyone should master. It can be just as useful during good times as it will be during the zombie apocalypse. I recommend everyone take a good non-lethal self-defense course. A good self-defense course won't just cover self-defense, but also give info on avoiding dangerous situations. Finally, if you can carry a gun legally, do so. Know and obey the laws, get all the proper licenses and permits, get well-trained, and practice gun safety, of course. But carry if you can. 

Finally, never underestimate to usefulness of money! Seriously, everyone should have a small stash of cash hidden at home for emergencies, as well a an emergency fund stashed at your local bank or credit union. The amounts will depend on your particular circumstances and concerns, of course, but I recommend at least a couple hundred dollars cash at home, and at least six months of living expenses in a savings account.

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Ideas for Fall Gardening

It is still July, and the sun is blazing hot. But now is the time to start thinking about Fall gardening. August will be here quickly, and that is when you need to plant many Fall crops. 

Here are some ideas to keep you busy over the next few months:

Grow a Fall Garden. In many places across the country, mid-August through mid-September is the time to plant your Fall Garden. Crops to consider for the Fall include lettuce, radishes, beets, leeks, onions, rutabaga, cabbage, Chinese cabbage (examples: Napa cabbage, bok choy), kohlrabi, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, spinach, and kale. The exact timing of your planting will depend on the crops you want, and your plant hardiness zone (your local agricultural extension office can help you with that).

Plant Garlic Bulbs for the Spring. September is the time to plant garlic bulbs for next year. Consider planting a couple of interesting varieties from the Seed Savers Exchange.

Harvest Apples. Many areas have u-pick apple orchards. A visit to one would make for a fun and useful way to spend a Saturday afternoon with the family. You can also visit your local farmers' market or attend one of the many small town apple festivals that are typically held in September or October.

Pick Nuts. September through November is the time to harvest pecans and black walnuts.

Plant Trees and Shrubs. Fall is a great time to plant most trees and shrubs. Check out my article from last year, Tips For Planting Fruit Trres & Common Mistakes.

Start Composting and Improving Your Soil. See my earlier article on Composting and Vermiculture

Start Making Your Lasagna Garden. Now is a great time to mark off your lasagna-garden beds for next year, lay down the newspaper and use the falling leaves and yard waste in the layers.

Start Building Your Raised Garden Beds. Raised-bed gardening is a relatively easy and very productive method of gardening. Get a jump on next year by building your raised-beds this Fall.

Grow Indoor Herbs. Many herbs, such as chives, oregano, basil, mint, and rosemary, can be grown in pots indoors during the Fall and winter.

Transplant Perennials. Fall is the best time to divide and transplant most perennials. A Japanese hori hori garden knife is perfect for this. I've been using one for a couple of years now, and really  love it - much better than a regular garden trowel.

Order Seed Catalogs. Don't forget to request seed catalogs for next year from your favorite companies. You can spend the winter months thumbing through the catalogs and dreaming big dreams.

Good Luck and Happy Fall Gardening!
Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Sustain a Thriving Garden. Great intro to raised bed gardening. 4.5 stars on Amazon. 

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Syria: Christian Woman, Aged 60, Gang-Raped for Hours Then Stoned to Death by Muslim Militants

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christin human rights organization. Check out their website,, for more news and information on Christian persecution and genocide around the world.   

Christian Woman Stoned to Death in Syria 

Autopsy Reveals Gang Rape Prior to Death, Islamic Terrorists Blamed

07/17/19 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 8, 2019, an Armenian Christian woman living in the Syrian Governorate of Idlib went missing. Suzan Der Kirkour was 6o years old and her body was found the next day just outside of her village, al-Yaqoubiyeh. An autopsy revealed that Suzan was tortured and repeatedly raped over an estimated period of nine hours. She was then stoned to death.

The incident was confirmed by SOS Chr├ętien’s d’Orient, which wrote in a statement that “cruel was her ordeal. The reality is just as much… (a) virgin at sixty, she died under the repeated assaults of the jihadists of al-Nusra.”

“The autopsy reveals that Suzan had been subjected to repeated rape since the afternoon of Monday (the 8th) until early Tuesday morning, only hours before her discovery. As a martyr, she is joined in heaven by thousands of Christian brothers, who died in the arena of barbarism,” continued the statement.

Suzan was a gardener and Arabic teacher. Although retired, she often volunteered at the Kneye Village Church where she helped youth achieve their baccalaureate. The church was concerned by Suzan’s absence, and it was parishioners who found Suzan’s body.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also verified the incident. “Her body was found with marks of torture on it. And according to forensic medicine, the woman had been tortured for about 9 hours before she was stoned to death by unidentified persons,” read the report.

It is widely reported among locals that Suzan’s attackers were members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, which maintains a strong presence in Idlib Governorate. Al-Yaqoubiyeh is a Christian village, but most of the women have left because of violent aggression from the terrorists. Some estimate that only 18 women, including Suzan, were living in the village.

The Syrian Civil War has raged for eight years, opening the door for Islamic extremism to take a strong foothold. Jabhat al-Nusra is the Syrian offshoot of al-Qaeda. They and many other terrorist groups are active in Idlib Governorate, which was supposed to provide a safe haven for internally displaced persons.

Instead, the governorate has become center stage for the Syrian conflict. Most Christians have fled the country, although they made up approximately 10% of the population prior to the war.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Suzan was a pillar in her community. Her untimely death and the manner of her murder is horrifying. It further deepens the shadow which has fallen upon any Christians who have remained in Syria throughout nearly a decade of violent conflict. Rule of law, justice, and accountability must be restored in Syria. Otherwise, we are witness to the slow, but fierce, extermination of Christianity from a country where it has existed for over 2,000 years.”
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Monday, July 15, 2019

China Continues to Hold North Carolina Pastor John Cao

By Tim Gamble
July 15, 2019

In March of 2017, Chinese authorities arrested Christian pastor and missionary John Cao, a permanent US resident living in North Carolina with his American wife, on charges of "illegal border crossings" between Myanmar and China. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in 2018 after a perfunctory court hearing, despite the fact that Cao had been routinely making the border crossings for three years with the full knowledge of the Chinese government. Since his conviction, Cao's legal appeals have been delayed seven times. In the most recent development, Chinese authorities are refusing to allow Cao to appear in person before the court, stating that any appeals would be "paper only." 

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reports that Cao's "health is deteriorating, and he’s lost over 50 pounds. He’s forced to share a cell with a dozen inmates and only 1 bed."

Observers believe that Cao's arrest, conviction, and denials of an an appeals process, are part of the ongoing crackdown on Christianity by the Chinese government. The crackdown consists of the harassment and shutting down of many Christian churches and schools, including the bulldozing of some church buildings, the removal of crosses from public display, the arrest on spurious charges of many Chinese pastors and other Christian leaders, among other measures.

John Cao converted to Christianity in his 20s, attended seminary in the US, married an American citizen, and settled in North Carolina as a legal permanent resident. He and his wife have two sons. He has been doing missionary work in Myanmar and China for decades, traveling between North Carolina and Asia. He founded sixteen schools for improvised children and set up various anti-poverty programs during that time.

China, which remains under strict communist control despite opening up to capitalism in recent decades,  has a population of approximately 1.4 billion people. The Communist Party in China, which is officially atheist, has approximately 70 million members. However, the strong growth of evangelical Christianity in China has resulted in slightly over 100 million Chinese Christians (approximately 75 million Evangelicals and 27 million Catholics. Also, the Chinese Orthodox Church, an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church, has about 15,000 members).

This situation of Christians outnumbering official Communist Party members is at least partially behind government crackdowns on Christianity over the last few years, as they seek to exercise control over Christianity in China. Communist governments, and all other collectivist regimes for that matter, demand that the citizen's top loyalty be to the State, not to God, the Church, or even the family. The State essentially sets itself up as God, and hates competition for that slot. 

The ACLJ, which is representing John Cao's family, has an online petition calling for John Cao's release.  

Sources:  1) Information provided by ChinaAid, 2) Information provided by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), 3) Information provided by Voice of the Martyrs.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Preparing quickly for a near-term SHTF event...

Survival is a long-term project. Developing self-reliance. Learning skills. Acquiring a bug-out location or homestead. Developing and fortifying that bug-out location or homestead. Hardening your home. Planting fruit and nut trees. Developing a community of like-minded folks. These things take lots of time - years or more. In fact, the survival lifestyle can take an entire lifetime to fully develop.

But what if we don't have an entire lifetime to prepare? What if we don't even have a few years? What if the threat we are worried about is only months, or even weeks, away? There will be no time to find, buy, and develop that perfect homestead or mountain retreat. No time to find or build that perfect prepper community. No time to make major changes in our lives. No time to develop the multitude of skills that would enhance our survival. 

Don't let those worries stop you. Keep preparing, and keep pushing for your long-term goals. But, while you are working on those long-term goals, there are steps you can take right now, that can be accomplished relatively quickly, to prepare for a more immediate event.  Here is my advice to someone wanting to prepare for a major SHTF event they believe might happen in a few months: 
First, stockpile lots and lots of water, food, first aid & medical supplies, personal hygiene supplies, cleaning & sanitation supplies, and other useful items. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, stockpile wood for it now. Make sure you have a least a few hundred dollars in cash stuck back in a safe, well-hidden place.

Second, work on enhancing your personal and home security as much as possible in the coming weeks. Get a gun if you don't already have one, and learn to use it! Stock up on ammo. Consider replacing your easy-to-kick-in doors with heavy duty security doors. Consider installing burglar bars on your windows, and enhancing the outdoor lighting around your home. Make sure your smoke detectors are working, and get a couple of fire extinguishers if you don't already have them. Go over security plans with your family.

Third, do not skip or put-off appointments with your doctor, dentist, or eye doctor. Get those things taken care of now, just in case you can't later.

Fourth, do not skip or put-off any needed car maintenance or repairs. Get the oil changed. Inspect and fix the brakes if necessary. Service the transmission. Get new tires if you need them. Replace the battery if it is getting old. You don't want to have to deal with a broken-down vehicle in the midst of an emergency. If you can safely store some extra gas (in containers designed for that purpose), do so. Don't store gas inside your house or apartment!

Fifth, if you don't already have a bug-out location, figure out somewhere else you can go in an emergency - perhaps to a relative's or friend's house (somewhere away from where you are now, and away from a big city). You may even want to preposition some clothes, food, and other supplies at their house. Don't have a friend or relative you can stay with? Maybe your best bet would be camping at a national or state park, or private campground. Decide where, determine how much it will cost, and make sure you have the appropriate gear. Put together a "bug-out bag" for each family member as a part of this step.

All of these things can be accomplished relatively quickly if you make it a priority. As I said earlier, keep working your long-term plan in addition to these steps. 

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Fitness and the Aging Prepper

I'm a middle-aged man with type 2 diabetes, and vision problems related to my diabetes. My knees aren't what they used to be, and my left shoulder doesn't work quite as well as it should. But don't worry, this article isn't about me. I just want to make it clear from the start that I am no young whippersnapper who doesn't understand the difficulties older folks face. When it comes to fitness and the aging prepper, I am the aging prepper. 

We all understand the importance of fitness. I don't believe I have to sell anyone on that idea. Rather than wasting time convincing you of something you already know, this article will address three issues when it comes to fitness and the aging prepper. First, what fitness objectives we should pursue as we grow older. Second, how we can meet these objectives. Third, how we can overcome the many obstacles we face in pursuing these objectives. 

Fitness Objectives for the Aging Prepper

I have decided, as an aging prepper, to center my fitness plan around three main objectives. Here are those objectives in order of importance:

     1) To achieve and maintain a healthy weight. What is a healthy weight? It will differ from individual to individual depending on factors such as sex, height, build, and age. An even better indicator to go by would be body mass index (BMI). Consult your doctor to decide weight is right for you.  

2) To improve and maintain flexibility, agility, and balance. Flexibility is the ability to move your joints. Agility is the ability to change direction quickly. Balance is the ability to maintain a specific body position while either being still or in motion.
All three tend to decline as we age, especially if we don't take steps to maintain them.

     3) To improve and maintain physical endurance. Physical endurance is the ability to maintain effort or activity over extended periods of time. The better your endurance, the longer it will take before you become too tired or weak to continue your efforts. And the less sore your muscles and joints will be the next day.

Other fitness objectives, such as improving and maintaining speed and strength, may also be important, but I have decided on these three as the most important to work on as an aging prepper. 

Meeting Fitness Objectives

There is some bad news. Meeting these (or any) fitness objectives will take time and effort. Fitness is not something you can buy from Amazon and have it delivered tomorrow morning. You have to work at it. And the results won't be instantaneous. Fitness requires patience. But meeting your objectives will be very worthwhile.

There is some good news. It can be done. And it doesn't require a lot of money. You don't need a gym membership, or expensive equipment, or even fashionable workout clothes.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Go for a walk. Walking is great exercise, and free. Start with a 15-minute walk each day, and over the next several weeks try to work your way up to 45-minutes tor even an hour. You can walk around your neighborhood, in your local mall (a great way to walk on a rainy day), or at local parks and greenways. I even know an older couple who walk laps inside their local Walmart most mornings, rain or shine.

Be active. Yard work - such as cutting grass with a push mower, gardening, raking leaves, or chopping wood - makes great (and free) exercise. In fact, anything that raises your pulse rate and causes you to lightly sweat counts as exercise. 

Stretching exercises and calisthenics are easy, don't require special equipment, and can be done just about anywhere. Just remember the exercises you used to do in gym class back in your school days - jumping jacks, sit-ups, toe-touches, leg squats, windmills, push-ups, and so forth. You can also find lots of videos on You Tube with fitness exercises and workout programs, ranging from basic beginner videos to much more advanced workouts.
 Exercise balls aren't expensive (most are under $30, some under $20) and are a great for yoga, pilates, and other types of exercise, as well as helping improve your balance. You can simply sit on an exercise ball while you watch television or work on the computer. You'll work on your balance and burn a few more calories at the same time.    

Speaking of balance, walking around the house with a book on your head really does help. It'll improve your balance and your posture at the same time.

Consider yoga or tai chi.  Both will help with all these fitness objectives. Again, you can find lots of videos on You Tube. Avoid the new age and eastern spiritual aspects if you are uncomfortable with them, but the physical exercise part is great. 

Whatever exercises you choose, be patient. Start slowly, and gradually increase your workout as your fitness improves. And, of course, consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program or making major changes in your diet, especially if you have a chronic health condition.    

Overcoming Obstacles  

"I'm too old."  
"I'm too out-of-shape."  
"I have bad knees."  
"I have a bad back."  
"I don't have the time."   

Excuses. We all have them. Often times those excuses are very real. But they are still excuses. They are still reasons we give to not do something that we know we should do. 

Everyone has obstacles in their life. Those obstacles seem to only grow as we age. But an obstacle doesn't have to become an excuse. Instead, find a way around that obstacle. It won't be easy. It will take effort. It will take determination. It may take creativity. But you can do it. And it will be worth it.

Most obstacles (excuses) are really just mental barriers. Remember the story of the four minute mile. Prior to 1954, running a mile in under four minutes had never been done by any athlete at any level. In fact, many people thought it was physically impossible for a human to do so. But, in 1954, Roger Bannister broke through that barrier, running a mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds. Since then, over 1400 athletes have broken the four minute mile. The current record stands at 3 minutes, 43.3 seconds. Its not that humans suddenly become faster in 1954, but rather that the mental barrier of the supposed human physical limit was eliminated as an excuse.

What excuses, real or imagined, are holding you back? What can you do to eliminate those excuses? Or to find a way around, over, under, or through, those excuses? Obstacles are real, but you don't have to let them become excuses.

The American College of Sports Medicine's Complete Guide to Fitness & Health isn't just for young people or professional athletes, but covers the entire life span - from birth through our senior years. It has chapter devoted to flexibility, as well as on specific health conditions such as diabetes and cancer. 



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