Physical fitness can be considered either of two related concepts: general fitness (a state of health and well-being), or specific fitness (the ability to perform physical tasks of varying degrees of difficulty, such as foot race or lift a weight). Fitness is generally achieved through correct nutrition, exercise, and adequate rest.
Fitness used to be commonly defined as the capacity to carry out the day’s activities without undue fatigue. However, as automation increased leisure time, changes in lifestyles following the industrial revolution rendered this definition insufficient. In current contexts, physical fitness is considered a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist disease and to meet emergency situations.
Proper fitness begins with a proper diet. The human body requires many things to regulate its array of internal functions, and the lack of even one of them can have negative consequences, including death.
Glucose is a carbohydrate, and the one most tied to energy in regards to diet and exercise.
One of the reasons life forms have to eat is to gain energy. Just as a car requires fuel to move, humans require food, which is broken down in the body, and used for various purposes. The most immediate negative effects of lack of food can be tied to decreased level of glucose, or blood sugar. When one's glucose levels are low (due to not eating) the body begins burning other parts of itself, such as fat and muscle. Eventually, this can lead to organ failure. Early symptoms include hunger, light-headedness, fatigue and the inability to concentrate. Eating regularly prevents glucose deficiancy, as the body is adept in changing various organic materials into glucose.
Protein can be considered one of the building blocks of life. Virtually every part of ones body contains protein, especially muscles. A low protein diet can lead to weaker, injury prone muscles. A high protein diet (with regular exercise) leads to larger and stronger muscles, which comprises ones strength, dexterity and stamina.
Protein rich foods include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts and dairy foods. Protein shakes are also available in many stores. If one is trying to gain additional muscle, a good rule of them is a daily intake of 1 gram of protein for every 2 pounds of your current weight (so divide ones weight in half - that's the desired amount of grams). Burn victims are usually prescribed double that (or as many grams of protein as they weigh in pounds) to stimulate the tissue growth necessary to heal/regenerate lost flesh. However, it is around this intake level that can damage the liver and kidneys.
Protein rich diets that do not take their fat and carbohydrate levels into consideration are at risk for Rabbit Starvation. During conventional starvation, the body can break down muscle to convert protein into carbohydrates for energy, but this also makes the body weaker and less fit.
Fatty tissue deposits are natures way of storing energy for later. While excess fat is a sign of poor fitness and health, even lean healthy athletes will encounter adverse effects of starvation if they have a very low body fat ratio. Because a practical balance between fit and fat is recommended, fatty foods are recommended occasionally, especially in if there is a shortage of carbs.
Minerals and Vitamins
Approximately 4% of the body's mass consists of minerals, or minute traces of assorted rocks. Sodium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium are just some of the minerals requires for maintenance and continued function of various organs. They provide the foundation of ones skeletal system, maintain heart rhythm, allow muscles to contract, allow the nervous system to send impulses, and regulate metabolism and hormone levels. Minerals are present in many food, a well as multi-vitamins. One shouldn't try to eat minerals directly, as the body cannot process them correctly. As with vitamins, mineral levels that are too high or too low can cause illness or death.
Vitamins are chemical compounds required to regulate the body's functions in much the same manner. Many are named with numbers and letters (Vitamin A, B, B4, etc) because their chemical names are hard to say or remember. Scurvy is a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, and Beri-beri is a disease caused by lack of Vitamin B1. Deficiency of any particular vitamin or mineral may result in any of a multitude of complications involving the proper function of the cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, or gastrointestinal systems.
- See also: Malnutrition on wikipedia.
There are too many vital vitamins and minerals to list all of their commonly found foods. A well balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and fish is recommended. When one mineral level is getting low, the body may send signals to the mind, in the form of craving a certain taste, or food, in order to persuade the person to change their diet.
Multivitamins, which are capsules or chewable compounds of vitamins and minerals. These can be very useful - even vital if food choices are limited.
Chemically, carbohydrates are chemical compounds that contain oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. They consist of combinations of sugars with the general formula Cm(H2O)n. In human nutrition, they are a staple of most modern diets.
When carbohydrates (commonly referred to as carbs) are consumed, the body can convert them to one of several different energy sources. If the human requires the energy soon after consumption (because of exercise or exertion), the body directly converts them to energy. If the body does not require the fuel, it converts it to fat, which is fuel to be used at a later time. The human body can do this very efficently, which is why diets high in carbohydrates accrue fat roughly as fast as foods high in fat.
Foods rich in carbohydrates (which include sugar, refined flour, potatos, bread, grains, rice and pasta) have become very popular throughout human history. This is because the aforementioned ease of conversion within the body is excellent for both sustained energy (as seen in athletes, particularly marathon runners) as well as staving off starvation (because a potato, gram for gram, gives a human body more energy than meat or greens, and is easily converted into fat). When a culture experiences a famine throughout history, it is usually either caused by a lack of carbs, or solved by a new source of carbs. As such, when food scarcity is encountered in a zombie apocalypse, foods with carbs are your best anti-starvation tool. When undergoing physical training, however, proteins are probably better.
While technically a specific form of carbohydrate, in food, and common vernacular, sugars are ingredients that make food sweet tasting. Generally, the body extracts energy from foods high in sugar more poorly than it does for other complex carbs, like those found in bread and pasta, and it requires more work to do it. While sugary foods can be thought of as a morale booster and a quick energy fix, high sugar diets typically bring a wide array of health issues, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and tooth decay. People trying to boost their fitness levels are advised to minimize their sugar intake as much as possible.
Alcohols are unique chemical compounds used by people for many different purposes. It is important to note that while there are many different kinds of alcohol, the only one that the human body can ingest without poisoning one's self is Ethanol, or Methyl Ethyl Alcohol. This is the active in ingredient in alcoholic beverages.
The three most common alcoholic beverages are beer, wine, and liquor. The rule of thumb is that, in terms of amount of alcohol content, one can of beer (12oz), one glass of wine (5oz), and one shot of hard liquor (1.25 oz at 80 proof) are roughly equal. One shot of vodka - the liquor that most closely resembles pure ethanol with no additives and few impurities, offers 170 calories - as many as a small sandwich. Other drinks have more calories as they have added sugars or starches (beer comes from wheat).
While this can keep hunger and starvation at bay, and can accelerate nutritional deficiencies, aggravate the healing process, nullify anti-biotics, weaken the immune system, and deteriorate the cardiovascular system, and overall health.
Alcohol is well known for its mood altering effects, and small doses (red wine, in particular, if only 3-5 glasses per week) have shown to be beneficial to one's health. Alcohol is considered a drug by many authorities for its adddictive properties, and severe physical and psychological dependencies when consumed regularly. Because of this, and it's ability to cloud judgement, warp perception and impair motor function, it is not recommended as a regular part of one's diet.
Fruits, berry and vegetables are a crucial part of any diet that aims for long term health. Scientists have barely scratched the surface in regards to all the ways the great variety of plantlife aids our health and extends our life when consumed. This is not to say one should eat any plant or berry one encounters - many are poisonous. One's local library should have books that identify poisonous plants.
But many common market produce varieties are easy to find seeds for. If a base is large enough to have a garden, this will be a renewable resource for food and health. Gardens will be one of the first, and most vital resources for stabilizing and strengthening the human populace in an area.
Still, vegetarianism is not entirely recommended in a zombie apocalypse. The protein levels from meats, poultry and fish are difficult to achieve with beans or soy (the only vegetables with any real protein). Also, many people find a vegetarian diet to be bland, and have difficulty sticking to it after weeks and months.
Exercise is the lesser half of fitness, but only slightly. Truly effective exercise requires a specific regimend - it is good to keep active, but to exert one's self to strenuous exercise in short bursts of 20 minutes to an hour, and then rest to allow the body to recover will give the survivor increased strength, speed, and endurance overtime, as well as a better physique.
| WARNING - Zombiepedia authors are not doctors, and do not know what physical issues you may have.
Always consult your docotor before starting a new exercise plan.
- On average, males are physically stronger than females. The difference is due to females, on average, having less total muscle mass than males, and also having lower muscle mass in comparison to total body mass. While individual muscle fibers have similar strength, males have more fibers due to their greater total muscle mass. The greater muscle mass of males is in turn due to a greater capacity for muscular hypertrophy as a result of men's higher levels of testosterone. Males remain stronger than females, when adjusting for differences in total body mass. This is due to the higher male muscle-mass to body-mass ratio.
- As a result, gross measures of body strength suggest an average 40-50% difference in upper body strength between the sexes as a result of this difference, and a 20-30% difference in lower body strength. This is supported by another study that found females are about 52-66 percent as strong as males in the upper body, and about 70-80 percent as strong in the lower body. One study of muscle strength in the elbows and knees—in 45 and older males and females—found the strength of females to range from 42 to 63% of male strength.
This does not, in any way automatically disqualify any particular female from a physical task. Determination and experience can be great equalizers. During the great panic, there were testimonies of weaponless mothers ripping the heads off of zombies that threatened their children. Regardless, exercise is equally recommended for both genders. It prolongs life, is directly related to health, and even prepares the body for pregnancy, and the period of recuperation thereafter.
Body Type Differences
There are three basic body types in humans, and depending on which type you are, you may have different diet and fitness goals (and obstacles). These basic types usually become evident in adolscence.
- Mesomorphs are the naturally brawny. They typically have thicker arms, thighs, and chests, and it is due to firm muscle rather than fat. They don't have to lift weights to be strong, but when they do lift weights, they put on muscle and gain power much faster than the other groups. When one thinks of Mesomorphs, one should think of American Football players, weightlifters, wrestlers and heavyweight boxers and MMA fighters. Mesomorphs are also best at heavy labour, such as logging, construction, masonry, and blacksmithing.
- Endomorphs tend to be shorter and rounder, easily accumulating fat, even when they have the same diet and activity levels as other groups. Sometimes a glandular defect can be attributed, but more often that not, is is a combination (or extreme) of genetics, inactivity, or poor diet. It is difficult for an endomorph to resemble a Mesomorph visually, but their strength levels are often comparible, as their muscles are strong from moving the extra weight around. Endomorphs are often better swimmers than Mesomorphs, as fat is less dense than muscle, and they float in water at a level that can allow them to get more efficiency per swimming stroke. However, their aerobic and cardiovascular system is the worst of the three groups, and for this reason, they are poor at evading zombies, and comprise the largest group of zombie body types.
- Ectomorphs tend to be taller and slimmer, with high metabolisms, that convert their food intake to energy very effeciently. While the lack of excess fat or muscle can make them some of the quickest, and most agile humans, they can also be somewhat frail and physically weak. To gain muscle, ectomorphs need more high protein diets, and an intense high-weight exercise plan. Ectomorphs are also particulaly vulnerable to starvation, as their body packs on less reserve fuel (in the form of fat) than most. All great endurance athletes are, or resemble ectomorphs.
Exercise for Physical Traits
While exercise is thought of as a broad term or high activity periods, most athletes specializes their workouts for improvements in particular areas.
To gain strength, brawn, or physical power, one should lift weights. Free weights are generally thought of as better long term, but calesthenics (the use of one's own body as a weight, as in push-ups, and sit-ups), elastic exercise cables, and universal machines may be better to start with, to prevent injury.
Regardless, the idea is to lift something very heavy, in a controlled, repeatable way. At first, form and a fluid motion is key. Three to six repetitions should be enough - if one has more reps in them, the weight was not heavy enough. If one or two is such a major struggle that balance or structural damage is a major risk, then one should lighten the weight.
Once fluidity and control is no longer an issue, one can either increase the weight, or the pace of the reps. Quick, spastic are more strenuous on the joints, tendons and ligaments, but they also more closely simulate real world (battle or emergency lifting) conditions. This may be why this sort of exercise raises the level of growth hormones in the body, which greatly improves the ability of the body to convert fuel into muscle.
Strength training takes months to see results, and during the first week or two, one can expect to experience major muscle stiffness. In most cases, this is the body sending extra blood to inflame areas where muscle fiber has been damaged, in order to keep the person from using it while it regenerates the area (with additional muscle tissue than prior to the workout, causing growth). However, while the stiffness is the body's way of telling a person to leave that area alone, it can last alot longer than necessary.
To combat stiffness hours and days after a workout, a combination of light stretching and exertion, anti inflammatories such as ibuprophen (if supplies perminent), ice, high water intake, massage, and rest is recommended. If stiffness is severe after three days, injury may have occurred. Usually this soreness is worst 48 hours after the initial workout, however this is a normally a safe time to workout, and in fact, the surest way of both seeing quicker results, and alleviating the soreness.
Agility is the proficiency of motion. Agile people have great balance, quick reflexes, and flexible bodies. There are many types of agility, and as such many ways to classify it. Agility is best developed at youth, where both the mental and neurological aspects of movement are still pliable. Agility exercises are usually very demanding on the cardiovascular system. Taxing workout tasks include jumping rope, foot racing, tire drills, basketball, cartwheels, handstands, practicing ground rolls and flips, pratfalling (very useful to know how to fall safely) and parkour. Less taxing tasks include archery, aeorbic "step" routines, playing catch, sparring with a punching bag, stretching, and walking a balance beam.
Endurance, Conditioning, Stamina or Physical Fortitude are all ways of saying "how much activity one can engage in before exhaustion becomes overwhelming". There are three types of Endurance: Aerobic (which in this context will refer to the strain on the ability to draw in enough air to keep one's body properly oxygenated), Cardiovascular (the strain on the heart to pump faster enough) and psychological (the ability of the individual's will to keep fighting through the pain and fatigue. All are extremely important, and when one is depleted (either in exercise, competition, or combat) the person will cease his or her actions.
Many tasks that build one area of endurance improve all of them, but not in equal measure. A treadmill, or exercise bike build a little more of one's cardio, but a lot less of their aerobic. Adding push-ups or sit-ups to one's routine 15 minute job really adds a lot more aerobic strain and development. Building psychological endurance is a very abstract matter, as there are an immense number of varying psychological factors from person to person. Developing an exercise routine, and learning to fight through the pain are the surest ways to start, but some people haven't the toughness to even get this far.