Thinking About A Zombie Apocalypse For The Rest Of Us
When I do research on emergency preparedness I am quite amazed by all the references to the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ in forums and other survival-themed websites.
Are they serious? Do you happen to be one of the millions of people around the world who take this zombie phenomenon seriously?
Should you or I take it 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!
However……the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response went so far as to release their own preparation guide on surviving a potential zombie attack. What?
If a national public health institute is really releasing an official advisory on a zombie outbreak, shouldn’t we be concerned about the legitimacy of it actually happening? 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.
However, they do 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 situation 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 have the ability to 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 kind of 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 in nature 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 wanna 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 as the result of a parasite infecting and taking over brain functioning.
There are a few known parasites in nature that can cause certain creatures to turn into a zombie-like state.
One is called toxoplasmosa gondii, and it 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 in order to be eaten.
This is kind of a reverse to the typical zombie infection given the zombie’s (the rodent) goal is to be eaten, not to eat others.
However, this same parasite is present in nearly half the human population, and studies have shown links between it and personality disorders like schizophrenia.
After all, the reasons scientists use rats in their studies is because their DNA isn’t far off from that of humans.
So it may take a while for this particular parasite to evolve to the level where it could breed in the human body, but the potential does theoretically exist.
Neurotoxins are chemicals that have the ability to slow your body functions to the point where you could be perceived as dead. Things like lead, ethanol, and mercury are forms of 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 that are usually the result of serotonin or other chemical imbalances. In these cases, the disorders may be the result of genetics, but they have never been contagious.
But then there’s Mad Cow Disease, which attacks a cow’s spinal cord and basically 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 relatively modern and innovative science that involves re-generating dead cells, including those in the brain, which were previously thought to be incapable of restoration.
It has already given doctors the ability to restore the brain tissue of comatose trauma patients to the point where they can regain their mobility.
This is a very much unnatural process that causes the brain to slowly die off from the outside in.
Unfortunately, it’s the outside – the cortex – that makes us human. Without it, all we have are basic functions and instincts as a result of the brain stem doing its work.
So, if in the process of re-generation 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 of people.
With all of that said, it still remains highly unlikely that a zombie outbreak will occur anytime in the near future.
That’s a relief!
Getting Ready For The Zombie Apocalypse
Things like viruses and neurotoxins play an important role in our ecosystems and can be essential for our survival. Most of them have no effect on humans and simply 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 of the face off 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 came to be known as the “Miami Zombie,” an aptly given name in a society that’s seemingly obsessed with the idea of corpses coming back to life.
Despite its fictional nature, people of all ages are increasingly throwing a zombie apocalypse into the mix of possibilities that create a real crisis scenario.
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 much different is that from the unprepared masses of looters and bandits that will emerge after the crisis situation? 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 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 geared up 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 plus your loaded rifle or shotgun and sidearm?
According to the big screen, the initial outbreak of a zombie apocalypse will require a constant state of mobility as you search for food, supplies, fellow survivors and shelter. In other words, there won’t be much time (or possibility) for hunkering down 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’ll be able to handle all the obstacles of a zombie apocalypse when the time comes.
Fortunately, it’s quite easy to get in some simulated practice running for your life. The zombie craze has seen a spawn of zombie-themed 5K runs and obstacle courses, zombie 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 all kinds of 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 qualities, 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 way 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 when it comes to 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.
However, if you’re physically able, strive to push yourself in each workout to go as long as possible in order 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.
If you aren’t already accustomed to eating fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and other healthy, seasonable items, you should start acclimating yourself now.
A zombie apocalypse would totally disrupt and eliminate the normal supply of sustenance to the masses, which will require you to grow, harvest and eat your own food.
So to that end, you should formulate some kind of workout routine NOW that will build strength, increase stamina and endurance and boost your metabolic rate.
Now, a zombie apocalypse isn’t likely to prioritize space for a fully equipped gym in your home or garage.
Instead, come up with 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 that you’re prepared to take on any zombie you come across, whether you have the opportunity to 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 it comes to sniffing out and stalking their human prey.
But whether the zombies of the coming apocalypse are fast or slow, they will pose an immediate threat to the safety of you and your family.
That’s why it is important to be fit enough to outrun a zombie (or another assailant).
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, both of 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 upon, 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 that determine whether or not 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 really 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.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely be carrying a pack loaded with your survival gear. Your ability to run while carrying a load is also of utmost importance, 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 much of an advantage as they are a challenge.
The more barriers you can put between you and the attacking zombies the better. If you can overcome these barriers quickly and efficiently, you will have a much better chance of surviving 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 actually 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 in time, you’re going to 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 all of a sudden 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 plays a direct role in 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 you with any of these attributes.
Some people naturally have great metabolisms and can eat whatever they want and remain thin, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are fit.
Regardless, if you have a diet of fast and processed food in normal times, you’re 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 the one 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!