Thinking About A Zombie Apocalypse For The Rest Of Us
When researching emergency preparedness, I am quite amazed by all the references to the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ in forums and other survival-themed websites.
Are they serious? Are you among the millions worldwide who take this zombie phenomenon seriously?
I can’t wrap my arms around this. It seems like every passing year brings about a new zombie-themed something or other, be it a movie, TV series, video game, obstacle course, or survival guide. I don’t think so! But the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response went so far at one time to release their own preparation guide on surviving a potential zombie attack.
If a national public health institute is releasing an official advisory on a zombie outbreak, shouldn’t we be concerned about its legitimacy? Or is this all one big joke?
Well, it just so happens that the CDC has since updated its website claiming that the zombie guide was a cheeky campaign to engage new audiences.
Sometimes the government cracks me up.
But they maintain their claim that if you have what it takes to survive a zombie apocalypse, you’re more likely to be prepared for a more realistic disaster like a hurricane, pandemic, or terrorist attack.
Now that does make sense.
Some Zombie Apocalypse History
Despite the CDC and the outrageous nature of the subject, you can’t help but wonder whether or not zombies could be real.
Zombies have their origins in West African and Haitian Voodoo, wherein some believe that special sorcerers and spirits can possess the spirits of the dead and cause their bodies to rise and walk among the living.
However, in movies since the 1930s and television today, zombies are typically portrayed as victims of some virus or parasite that takes over a person’s body and causes the corpse to become a flesh-eating monster.
Of course, most of these theories have only been tested fictionally on the big screen, but there is some evidence that zombies could one day be a real threat.
Well, no matter what, maybe it’s time to learn how to get fit enough to survive one just for fun. Do you want to be the person who gets eaten because you couldn’t run away from the lumbering hordes?
Below we will discuss some of the science and reality behind various forms of potential zombie outbreaks.
How You May Become A Zombie
Let us get technical and look at some real-life situations:
Some zombies are known to spawn due to a parasite infecting and taking over brain functioning.
A few known parasites in nature can cause certain creatures to turn into a zombie-like state.
One is called toxoplasma gondii, which affects rodents like mice and rats. However, this parasite can only breed in the intestines of cats, so it essentially takes over the rodent’s brain and programs it to find the nearest cat to be eaten.
This is the reverse of the typical zombie infection, given that the zombie’s (the rodent) goal is to be eaten, not to eat others.
But this parasite is present in nearly half the human population, and studies have shown links between it and personality disorders like schizophrenia.
After all, scientists use rats in their studies because their DNA isn’t far off from that of humans.
So it may take a while for this parasite to evolve to the level where it could breed in the human body, but the potential theoretically exists.
Neurotoxins are chemicals that can slow your body’s functions to the point where you could be perceived as dead. Lead, ethanol, and mercury are poisonous neurotoxins, as is the tetrodotoxin found in puffer and porcupine fish.
Certain drugs and counter-chemicals have been discovered that can bring the victim back to life. Unfortunately, they are reduced to a zombie-like state but can still carry out the basic needs of eating, sleeping, and moving around.
This is the type of practice found in the voodoo culture of Haiti, where there is evidence of this practice being used to pronounce a man dead and bury him only to revive him as a zombie to be put to work in the plantations.
The story is all too real and horrifying, but fortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that these zombies would become aggressive or crave human flesh.
In some movies, zombies are the victims of some form of a super virus that turns them into enraged killing machines.
Humans can develop certain brain disorders that essentially cause the same thing, but these are individualized cases usually resulting from serotonin or other chemical imbalances. In these cases, the disorders may result from genetics, but they have never been contagious.
But then there’s Mad Cow Disease, which attacks a cow’s spinal cord and turns it into a zombie cow.
If humans consume the beef from that cattle, they too can be inflicted with a similar disease that causes very zombie-like symptoms like twitching, discoordination, and seizures.
Should this type of virus evolve to the point where it widely affects humans and gets into our food supply, it could plausibly turn us into crazed, mindless zombies out to bite our next victims.
Neurogenesis is a relatively modern and innovative science involving re-generating dead cells, including those in the brain, which were previously thought incapable of restoration.
It has already allowed doctors to restore the brain tissue of comatose trauma patients to the point where they can regain their mobility.
This very unnatural process slowly causes the brain to die off from the outside.
Unfortunately, the outside – the cortex – makes us human. Without it, we all have basic functions and instincts due to the brain stem doing its work.
So, if, in the process of regeneration, the stem is restored but the cortex dies off, the patient essentially wakes up as an undead zombie.
While this process is potentially quite dangerous, it would take a tremendous undertaking to inflict such damage on a large population.
With all of that said, it still remains highly unlikely that a zombie outbreak will occur anytime soon.
That’s a relief!
Getting Ready For The Zombie Apocalypse
Viruses and neurotoxins are important in our ecosystems and can be essential for survival. Most of them do not affect humans and serve to keep nature in balance.
So while you should still follow the advice of the CDC and prepare for a zombie (read: pandemic or natural disaster) apocalypse, the chances of it looking like a zombie horror flick remain quite slim.
In May 2012, a man suspected of being under the influence of a new drug known as “bath salts” was fatally shot by police after having assaulted and subsequently bitten on the face of a homeless man on a highway overpass in Miami, Florida.
I remember that story!
This incident gained viral and worldwide media exposure, and the cannibalistic attacker became known as the “Miami Zombie,” an aptly given name in a society seemingly obsessed with the idea of corpses coming back to life.
So, zombies aren’t exactly real, but how much different is a zombie outbreak from other large-scale disaster scenarios?
Think about it: Zombies are nothing but ruthless, bloodthirsty creatures in the shape of humans that don’t respond to reason or possess the ability to think.
How different is that from the unprepared masses of looters and bandits that will emerge after the crisis? They, too, are ruthless, fail to reason, and won’t hesitate to wound or kill their victims to get what they want to survive.
Whatever you want to call it, the zombie apocalypse comes in the form of “real” zombies like those made famous in movies and television or real people who have gone deranged; your fitness will play a large role in your ability to survive the outbreak.
So, you’ve got a bug-out bag with food, water, and supplies, but are you ready to carry all that gear for a 10, 15, or 20-mile hike? If you had to, could you run for a distance while carrying all that gear and your loaded rifle, shotgun, and sidearm?
According to the big screen, the initial outbreak of a zombie apocalypse will require constant mobility as you search for food, supplies, fellow survivors and shelter. In other words, there won’t be much time (or possibility) for hunkering and getting comfortable.
Fitness Training For The Zombie Apocalypse
Let us look at the importance of staying in shape and keeping up with a regular fitness regime so you can handle all the obstacles of a zombie apocalypse when the time comes.
Fortunately, getting in some simulated practice running for your life is easy. The zombie craze has seen a spawn of zombie-themed 5K runs, obstacle courses, survival fitness classes, and smartphone zombie-themed fitness apps.
Whether or not you go for one of these novelty pursuits, you should make fitness an important part of your zombie (and overall disaster) preparedness routine before it’s too late.
After all, surviving a zombie outbreak will require demanding physical activity: walking and running long distances, climbing, surmounting obstacles, lifting, building, hauling supplies, shooting, and hand-to-hand self-defense.
Now, just because you can lift a ton of weights in the gym or have six-pack abs doesn’t mean you have the physical attributes to survive zombie doomsday. In addition to strength, you’ll need endurance, stamina, and respiratory and heart health.
And aside from physical fitness, surviving the zombie apocalypse (or any disaster) will require creative thinking and adaptability, as those who can think on their feet and adapt can survive.
However, physical fitness is more than just looking buff and lifting heavy loads.
The more fit you are, the better you feel, and the more likely you are to stave off disease and sickness. This will be just as important as any trained skill regarding your ability to survive a prolonged disaster.
This principle applies to every man, woman, and child, regardless of age. Even the elderly, who will presumably have a harder time surviving a disaster, should do everything within their ability to stay in shape, even if it means simply going on daily walks on (or off) the treadmill.
But if you’re physically able, strive to push yourself in each workout as long as possible to acclimate your body to perform while under stress and fatigue.
Also, consider your pre-apocalypse diet and how it will affect your post-apocalypse fate.
When a crisis rears its ugly head and zombies are roaming the streets, you won’t be able to call up your local pizza joint for delivery. Processed foods will run out quickly and eventually, even your stores of canned and boxed foods will run dry.
You should start acclimating if you aren’t already accustomed to eating fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and other healthy, seasonable items.
A zombie apocalypse would disrupt and eliminate the normal supply of sustenance to the masses, requiring you to grow, harvest and eat your own food.
So, you should formulate some workout routine NOW to build strength, increase stamina and endurance and boost your metabolic rate.
A zombie apocalypse will not likely prioritize space for a fully equipped gym in your home or garage.
Instead, devise a routine that can be performed anywhere: in a basement, on a rooftop, etc., so you can always dedicate time to staying in shape no matter where you find yourself when the situation arises.
Sticking to quick, dynamic, full-body workouts will ensure you’re prepared to take on any zombie you come across, whether you can make a getaway or are forced to stand and fight.
The routine you choose to follow is up to you, but make sure it includes cardio and works out (almost) every muscle in the body.
You can do this in just 5 or 10 minutes by performing a series of jumping jacks (cardio); push-ups (arms, chest, back, abs); crunches (core); squats (legs and back); and pull-ups (arms, back, chest).
Some might call it crazy, but wouldn’t you rather be safe (and fit) than sorry (and out of shape) when the zombie apocalypse comes?
How To Outrun A Zombie
Depending on the movie or show, the consensus seems to agree that zombies aren’t particularly fast-moving creatures.
However, there are some interpretations where the zombies are inhumanly fast, agile, and daresay creative when sniffing out and stalking their human prey.
But whether the zombies of the coming apocalypse are fast or slow, they will immediately threaten your and your family’s safety.
That’s why being fit enough to outrun a zombie (or another assailant) is important.
And while your main goal will be to avoid those assailants at all costs, you will inevitably come across them at some point. Then you will face the fight or flight scenario, which will require prime physical fitness.
Your first step to getting fit enough to outrun such a situation starts with cardio. But contrary to what some movies insist, long-distance cardio shouldn’t be your primary focus.
Instead, you should practice sprinting at short distances as it will be the first 40 or 50 yards determining whether you’ll get away from a zombie.
Leisurely jogs or runs on the treadmill will help keep you in shape, but interval training with sprints will be much more effective in your ability to evade the zombie.
Interval training will help you in those crucial first few seconds of a zombie getaway while helping to maximize your lung capacity, thus improving your endurance.
And endurance is not to be downplayed. You never know what the zombies of the apocalypse will look like. If it turns out they are fast, your endurance and ability to run long distances will be critical to your survival.
Remember that you’ll likely carry a pack loaded with your survival gear. Your ability to run while carrying a load is also important, so include that in your training regimen.
Another important part of outrunning a so-called zombie will be your ability to surmount obstacles and barriers that zombies cannot give you a more likely chance of escape.
To some, this means practicing Parkour, which is, according to Wikipedia, a training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training.
Practitioners aim to get from one point to another in a complex environment, without assistive equipment, and in the fastest and most efficient way possible.
Regardless of how slow the zombies are, running down a long, straight road or path will not be the best way to evade them. Plus, in the aftermath of an apocalypse, there are likely to be a variety of vertical obstacles that you’ll have to overcome.
Whether these obstacles are fences, stairs, overturned vehicles, ladders, or rooftops, they are just as advantageous as a challenge.
The more barriers you can put between you and the attacking zombies, the better. If you can quickly and efficiently overcome these barriers, you will better survive the attack.
You don’t need to learn any fancy flips or how to run up a wall like you see the Parkour experts do in videos. Some simple agility moves are all you will need to overcome a few barriers and stop the aggressors’ pursuit.
Simply learning how to jump up and down stairwells, on and off ledges and walls, and across small gaps, in addition to a few basic vaulting moves, will give you a significant edge over your clumsy, bloodthirsty attacker.
Most Parkour enthusiasts are quite small and nimble, but that isn’t to say they aren’t also strong.
Relative strength is another important aspect of outrunning a zombie, as it plays a role in your ability to overcome obstacles. Not all walls, ledges, and fences can be cleared in a single leap.
At some point, you’ll have to climb a tall fence or scale a wall using a rope, both of which will require you to support the weight of your body while exerting strength.
However, brute strength will also be useful in a zombie apocalypse. You could be scaling flights of stairs and making sharp turns down corridors in a building full of zombies when suddenly you come across a locked or jammed door.
Not everyone has the body mass or strength to barge through a locked door, but it could be an obstacle you have to face when running from a zombie.
Additionally, the time may come when you have no choice but to force your way through the path of one or more zombies. Agility and speed will play a role here, but so too will your brute strength and ability to knock down bodies with bone-crushing force without getting bitten or scratched.
Dieting For A Zombie Apocalypse
Your diet is another incredibly important part of your health and directly affects your ability to outrun an enraged zombie.
Outrunning a zombie requires speed, agility, stamina, and endurance. Unfortunately, pizza, burgers, cookies, and soda will not provide these attributes.
Some people naturally have great metabolisms, can eat whatever they want, and remain thin, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are fit.
Regardless, if you have a fast and processed food diet in normal times, your chances of surviving after the collapse will be significantly reduced.
So, do you think you have what it takes to survive a zombie attack? If not, you should start hitting the gym and coming up with a routine that will provide you with the physical skills to evade and outrun the living dead.
If the zombie apocalypse does come, you don’t want to be in the back of the pack with flesh-eating undead on your tail. Do your part now to get fit enough to outrun a zombie.
Try to be the one who is not the main course at tonight’s dinner!