As our family becomes more and more aware of how our health is effecting our preparedness plans, we’ve begun to become more active, without spending money at a gym or on equipment. We aren’t interested in being hard bodies, but we are interested in being healthy bodies.
10 Steps to Strengthen Your Body without a Gym
1. Drink More Water.
Of course, this is going to be on the list. Drink. Not drinking dehydrates your body. Your cells can’t work as effectively, your muscles can’t work as efficiently, your organs certainly can’t work as effectively (and thus you can become sick), and it effects all the rest of your systems up the line. Keeping your body hydrated with healthy liquids is mandatory to strengthen your body and keep you healthier. While there is no real magic formula to knowing how much you should be drinking, according to the Mayo Clinic, “knowing more about your body’s need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day.”
2. Sleep Better.
I didn’t just say sleep more, but I think for a good part of the American public, that would also be good advice. We never get enough sleep. We’re parents, we’re caregivers, we have stressful jobs, we have demands, but one thing we CAN control is how well we sleep. Don’t eat a big huge meal right before you go to sleep, don’t sleep with the television on (I’m horrible about this), get your snoring under control (not only for you but your spouse who needs better sleep, too), update your bed if you haven’t had a new mattress in 20 years (though the sleep industry is suggesting every 8 years), don’t go to sleep hungry, sleep in dark cool rooms if you can, rest your mind before going to sleep (meaning get off the video game system for awhile so your brain has a chance to de-stress itself!) etc. etc. etc. Many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep. If you aren’t sleeping enough, you aren’t recharging.
Did you know? National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 crashes that are reported to the police each year are the direct result of fatigue and sleepiness? And that is a conservative estimate because it is hard to pin down how many crashes are due to drowsiness. (source CNN)
You notice I didn’t say stop eating, I said eat. And eat lots. But make those choices of food be things that are going to give you good fuel, good nutrition, good balance. I’m never going to tell you not to have an ice cream sundae, but do you have to have a triple dip….every night? I don’t think so 😉
And not only does this mean get your butt off the couch, it means exercise. You’re never going to be strong if you don’t use those muscles to do meaningful things. This is completely me preaching to myself, I promise you. This is the biggest step for me. Being sedentary is the biggest reason for the rapid weight problem in America. We watch television, we work at desk jobs, we drive everywhere, we drive our kids everywhere, we don’t kick our kids outside, we take escalators and elevators, we aren’t physical. While others will blame fast food, empty nutrition, I believe an even bigger issue is the sedentary lifestyle the Western World has adopted.
Surprisingly, your lungs play a large part in how well your body works, not just the simple act of keeping you alive. So many of us, especially as we get older or become more and more sedentary, revert to shallow stomach breathing. This does not inflate the lungs, it does not exercise your lungs, and thus you are pulling in less oxygen and move out less carbon dioxide, thus not giving your body what it needs to function well. Others of us are under so much stress, that we revert to chest breathing, which is the shallow version of a good breath that uses your diaphragm. Chest breathing doesn’t fully engage your lung’s full capacity, and is one of those things that lends itself to stressing out more, and panic attacks. Those breathing exercises for stress reduction….help you in more ways than one!
Americans have become so stressed in the last years. We move at a faster pace, we work harder for less, we’re anxious about so much, we’re emotionally stressed over things that we allow to take over our lives. We’ve lost a sense of balance. And with that stress comes bad bad things. Stress causes us to smoke more, eat more, sleep less, be less efficient in our lives thus creating more stress.
According to Web MD: “Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress — a negative stress reaction. Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.”
So learn to give your body and your circumstances a break. Find things that help you relieve stress in a positive manner. You don’t have to become a zen master, but learn to live with less.
7. Use Your Body.
This is more than just moving. You can walk, and you can exercise, but often those exercises are targeted at mass muscle grouping, especially if you are following the current trend of the P-90X crowds that are meant to bulk up. And before any fans yell at me, no, not every program is a like, and yes some folks take it too far. But using your body to do manual work is a great way to build your muscles and body in a meaningful way that make you strong and flexible.
8. Stop bad behaviors.
I’m just going to throw all these in to one category. If you eat poorly, if you smoke, if you drink too much, if you engage in behaviors that bring danger to yourself, these things will all weaken your body and make you sick. You don’t need me to point out your sin, but this is one of those areas where you are doing yourself no good – and only harm can come from it.
This is different than sleep. We need the sleep to restore our bodies, restore our brains, and allow things to heal and grow. We need rest to relax, to regroup, to spend a little time in quiet and solitude and to refuel our souls. This helps make our body and mind more productive, and frankly, it makes you a happier person – who will be more inclined to take care of yourself.
10. Step away from the computer.
This seems like one that would easily fit under the “Move” directive, but I want to keep it separate because, as opposed to someone who just doesn’t want to get up and do things, the computer can zap your intention to do things. You mean to just sit down for a minute to check your mail or zip through Facebook to see how all of your friends are exercising or what they are eating or what meme they are laughing at, and you find yourself, an hour later, after 30 games of Candy Crush Saga or another run through World of Warcraft, and the time you had is now gone. Time wasters are those things that pull us away from our family, our friends, our intentions, and our very health.
And what does any of this have to do with preparedness? TONS! You prepare to live. So prepare your body so that you can live. If you can’t walk more than a mile without breathing heavily, if you can’t run after your kids to save them from danger, if you can’t do what you need to do to help your family become self-sufficient because you’re sick all the time, you’re not living now much less living for the future. It’s for your kids. It’s for your spouse. It’s for you.