Survival of the Fittest – Exercise That Could Save Your Life

Many people find it difficult to stay motivated enough to maintain a fitness routine after they have left school or college. Some team sports, such as football and rugby, require that you remain in good shape, but many people give up these sports as they settle down and start raising a family.

One way to stay motivated to keep fit, is to consider your fitness routines as being a tool for keeping you healthy, and also potentially saving your life. This may seem a little daunting, and not something that people like to think about, but in our modern society, danger seems to lurk around every corner. Or at least that is how it seems when reading the newspapers.


So, which fitness activities have the potential to save your life? Really, there are three key skills that can be learnt which may help save you – running, fighting and swimming.

At times of stress, when under attack, our bodies go into a fight or flight mode. This is the natural response to a life threatening situation, so fitness for survival must focus on improving these two areas most. The best advice if confronted by an aggressor is to turn and run. If you are alone, and not backed into a corner, then the chances are that if you make a dash for it, and you are faster and fitter than the aggressor, you will get awa

Running for survival has to be more than just jogging in the park. Training must focus on sprinting as well as longer distance running. For this the best training method is interval training. The easiest way to do running interval training is to find a good park, and plan a route that allows you to run for several minutes at an easy pace, and then do sprints over short distances. When training sprint for as long as possible at maximum speed, and when you are forced to stop, slow right down and do a recovery lap or two of the park. Once your heart rate has returned to a normal jogging level, sprint again. Soldiers train in this way, usually running flat out over a 500m before returning to a recovery pace. There are times in a soldiers career that they need to run for their lives, which is why they train this way, but you have to train yourself not to stop after the sprint, but to recover then sprint again.

Fighting is the second form of exercise that may save your life. There are many forms of fighting to chose from, so there is no reason to not learn to fight. Whether you do Western boxing, Chinese Kung-fu, Japanese karate or judo, Korean Tao kwon do, Thai boxing or learn to wrestle, all of these can help you out of a sticky situation if running is not an option. When learning to fight, look for a stlye (or pick more than one style) that includes close-in fighting skills, grappling, body strikes and knockout strikes, as well as a style that teaches ground work. Many fights go to the ground, and many people lose a fight as soon as they hit the floor. Being able to carry on fighting if you get knocked down is essential.

Also, learning to protect yourself from a knife attack is also recommended. It is a sad fact that in our society we are seeing more and more knife attacks every week. One of the best ways to learn to defend against a knife is to learn to fight with one first. To know how to fight, is to know how to defend. Some martial arts specialise in weapons and knife training. Escrima is possibly the best example of this, and there are more clubs appearing now as the style becomes more popular. Escrima is a Filipino Martial Art that emphasises stick and sword fighting, with a lot of knife drills. Knife defence is all about deflecting the knife attack, and moving to ensure that if you are cut, you are cut in non-vital areas.

Finally, swimming is a key survival skill. Learning to swim could help you to save your life if you ever found yourself floundering in the waves while on holiday, or unexpectedly in water at any other time. Taking swimming one stage further and learning life saving skills will provide you with the tools to save others if the need arose.

So, if you are at a loss for a fitness activity, think about the survival of the fittest concept. Learn to run, learn to fight, learn to swim. Good luck, and be safe.

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