Being in good physical condition when SHTF can be the difference between survival and the grim alternative.
Too many people these days are living sedentary lifestyles and suffering from chronic conditions that can become a huge burden in an emergency survival situation.
Cardiovascular disease is the #1 leading cause of death in the United States for men and women. Many people are taking medications just to manage their heart condition and make it through another day.
As you can imagine, if and when an emergency hits, people with unhealthy hearts will have a much harder time surviving than those who are healthy.
Not only will their access to medications become limited, but the physical aspects of survival could push their bodies to the limit.
One of the most important things you can do as a prepper is to maintain your physical condition through exercise and healthy eating.
How do you know that you have a healthy heart? Just because you haven’t been diagnosed with something and given a drug for it doesn’t mean you’re in peak condition.
The good news is that you don’t need to get expensive tests or fancy equipment to gauge your heart’s health. There is a simple test you can do at home for free that’s pretty good at determining your health.
The Stair Climb Test
The Stair Climb Test is simple. All you need is a place with 4 flights of stairs or 60 total steps.
You start a timer and go up the stairs as fast as you can without actually running.
Then, check your time to see how long it took you to cover all 4 flights.
Depending on how long it took you, you can predict your overall heart health and even estimate your life expectancy.
The reason this test works so well is that going up an incline puts a lot of strain on the heart, increases your heart rate, and yields better metabolic equivalents (METs) which are associated with better health outcomes.
The stronger your heart, the quicker you can complete the Stair Climb Test. If your heart health is poor, it might take you much longer to get up 4 flights of stairs.
You might have to stop and take breaks, and by the time you get to the top, you’ll be feeling out of breath.
Stair Climb Test Instructions
Nothing is stopping you from performing the Stair Climb Test right now.
In fact, it’s probably a good idea to have everyone in your family do it so that you have a baseline for everyone’s health and potential challenges in case of an emergency.
Here is what you’ll need:
- Comfortable clothes and a pair of sneakers
- A timer
- 4 flights of stairs (60 steps total) – you must be able to do all 4 flights in a row without a significant break between them. Ideally, this will be in a multiple-story building or at a stadium.
- A small notepad with a pencil or a note app on your phone
Understanding Stair Climb Test Results
What the Stair Climb Test comes down to is this: the quicker it takes you to complete it, the better your heart health.
But what is considered quick and what is considered slow? The scientists who came up with this test broke it down into the following categories:
1.5 Minutes Or Longer
Participants who take 1.5 minutes or longer to complete the test tend to have poorer health outcomes and a higher risk of heart disease.
About 58% of people who took this long to complete the Stair Climb Test had abnormal heart functioning during the test itself, and the anticipated death rate for them is 2% – 4% per year, or 30% in 10 years.
45 Seconds – 1.5 Minutes
If it takes you between 45 and 90 seconds to complete the Stair Climb Test, you’re right in the middle. Your heart is in good health overall, although there is room for improvement.
If you’re in this category, your likelihood of developing heart disease is lower but it’s not zero. You could benefit from doing cardio exercises to make your heart stronger and more resilient.
Under 45 Seconds
If it takes you less than 45 seconds to complete 4 flights of stairs, your heart is in really good condition. These results are linked to a low mortality rate (1% or less per year, or 10% in 10 years) and a much lower likelihood of heart issues.
This is the result you’re aiming for if you want to be sure that your heart is in optimal condition for survival.
Improving Your Results
If you didn’t complete the test in less than 45 seconds, don’t worry. A lot of people find themselves missing the mark the first time they do the Stair Climb Test.
Unfortunately, our modern lives are not designed to keep us moving and strengthening our heart muscles day in and day out.
Luckily, you can change that. Simple cardio exercises are important to do to increase better health outcomes and strengthen your heart.
Cardio doesn’t have to be hard. Simply walking 150 minutes per week (that’s only 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week) has been shown to significantly improve the strength of your heart, your lungs, and even your joints. It can help you lose some extra weight too.
If you’re more into higher intensity cardio, like jogging or rowing, you only need 75 minutes per week to notice a huge difference.
It would be a good idea to incorporate this type of exercise into your routine for 2-3 months before repeating the Stair Climb Test. You’ll be surprised at how much faster your can cover those steps and how much stronger your heart can get in just a few months of exercise!