Home Exercise 101 How To Survive A Zombie Invasion

How To Survive A Zombie Invasion

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Do you see this? THIS is why you should run. Good grief.

See, you might see the title of this blog post and think I’ve gone off the deep end.

I haven’t.*

I’m serious, though. C’mon — I can’t be the only person who has seen The Walking Dead. I mean, it was a pretty darn popular show, I thought. (It was also a comic, buuut… I’m not trying to let my nerdy side show too much, here.)

It was also scary as hell.

What was The Walking Dead? A TV show about a zombie apocalypse and the last uninfected people. I’m trying to remain one of those uninfected people.

And really, lets keep it real… y’all know Black girls don’t last long in these zombie episodes, shoot. Jada Pinkett didn’t last longer than 10 minutes when she was in Scream 2, and that killer was human!

I’ve got to prepare myself to protect myself.

That means… when I’m in that unavoidable situation where I’ve got to run for my life – be it from a zombie or psycho in a ghost mask – I’ve got to be ready.

All jokes aside, this means that I need to be able to run consistently for a mile straight without needing to stop in the middle to take breaks along the way…

…and that’s what today’s post is all about.

Cardiovascular health is important. Think of all the reactions that happen when you run. The heart pumps blood into the lungs where the blood is then blended with oxygen and pumped to the rest of the body. That cycle carries not only the oxygen our bodies need to function properly, but the nutrients and energy as well. You want that cycle to operate as efficiently as possible.

That’s what cardiovascular exercise is supposed to help you do. It gives you the opportunity to test your cardiovascular ability in a controlled environment and push it a little closer to the limit each time you get out there.

For example, take a basic jog in the park. You get moving… you start breathing a little heavier… your heart is pumping blood into your lungs where it then carries oxygen into your body… where the blood then picks up nutrients and energy and carries it throughout your body. This action not only clears the channels through which blood flows – like, for example, arteries – but this activity within the body generates heat… which then causes you to sweat, since sweat is the body’s natural cool down system.

Remember… as calories are a measure of heat, generating heat in the body equates to a burning of calories. This is why cardiovascular activity is seen as being so “important” to weight loss.

You can gauge your cardiovascular ability by how much effort it takes your body to execute basic functions. Do you break into a sweat when you climb a few flights of stairs? Do you have a hard time making it from one end of the block to the other? Um, the zombies are gonna get you… and I like you. I don’t want the zombies to get you.

With cardiovascular exercise, you work your heart and body to what it considers maximum capacity, then you hit “that brick wall.” Y’know, the wall where you feel like if you go any further, you might keel over and die?

Yeah, you’re not gonna keel over and die. In fact… look at it this way – if you slow down, then zombies are gonna get you. I’d rather keep going and keel over while I’m in motion than have the zombies catch me while I’m still alive.

I’m just sayin’.

The more you push yourself to remain at that “maximum capacity,” the more your heart gets used to what that “maximum capacity” is and since it has trained for how to handle that amount of work, it requires less effort to properly pump what you need through the body.

Y’know.. the good gooey stuff that the zombies want.

This is why cardiovascular exercise can be such a great way to stave off high blood pressure… because as blood pressure is the measure of how hard the heart has to work to pump blood through the arteries, cardio helps the heart become stronger and more effective at pumping blood through those very same arteries. Remember, the heart is a muscle just like any other. You lift the same 10lb weight for a few weeks, the forearm/bicep/tricep muscles become strong enough to deal with exerting that force, and it becomes easier to lift that same 10lb weight. The heart works the same way.

So… back to this zombie thing – the most important issue, here.

How can you train to run a mile straight without having to stop for breaks? ‘Cause believe me… the zombies don’t come complete with a pause button.

Ever heard of high intensity interval training? It’s one of those buzz words – something I try to avoid using when I can, here – but the difference is that this one actually has value. High intensity interval training is basically a way of saying that you practice your cardiovascular activity in intervals with different amounts of intensity. For example:

If you powerwalked for 4 minutes, then made a million dollar mad dash for 1 minute, then powerwalked again for 4 minutes, then another minute-long million dollar mad dash… and continued that cycle? That would be you successfully training in intervals.

You could even scale it back a bit. If you’re a beginner to cardio, simply try walking at a leisurely pace for 4 minutes, then power walk as fast as you can for a minute.

It doesn’t matter what you do during that 4 minute/1 minute interval, as long as they are of varying intensity and you are pushing yourself to the limit.

Once that feels like it’s no longer challenging? Shift your intervals. Power walk for 3 minutes, make that mad dash for 2 minutes. Keep your leisurely pace for 3 minutes, then power walk for 2 minutes.

Keep moving like that until you’re power walking for 5 minutes straight.. and if you feel like you need to slow down a tad? Then give yourself a minute. Before you know it, you could be power walking for 8 minutes, and then taking it slow for 1. Power walking for 10 minutes, slowing down for 1. The same goes for power walking/mad dashing.

How do you know that it’s challenging you? You’re sweating – that’s a big hint. You’re breathing harder – that’s another one. Remember, you’re challenging your heart to work harder, so that’s your biggest indicator of whether or not you’re challenging yourself. You’re training for cardiovascular ability… so that you’ll eventually be able to duck those pesky zombies. Once you no longer feel that in your heart, it’s time to move up to the next level.

After you’ve reached the point where you’re power walking (or mad dashing, depending upon what your intervals consist of) for your entire cardio session, it’s time to try to up the ante. Start over – yes, start over – so that if you were once leisurely walking and power walking, now you’re power walking for four minutes and jogging for 1. You just keep playing with the intensity at a controlled pace and before you know it, you’ve increased your cardiovascular ability.

…and while you’re increasing your cardiovascular ability, you’re also losing weight. All that generated heat burns calories, y’know.

Intervals are an awesome way to not only sneakily issue a cardiovascular challenge to your heart, but get in some extra calorie burnage, as well. If you can’t mad dash for your entire cardio session, getting in a minute or two of it here or there also makes a big difference.

I’m still a big proponent of interval training and even though now, I’m training with an extra 50lbs on me – no, I didn’t gain weight… but I am pushing a jogging stroller with one hand and controlling an Alaskan Husky with the other – I’m still working to get my speed up. Intervals are the best way to do it.

So… who else is going to join the Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Team and prepare for the end with me?

*I might be kidding – slightly – with the zombies, but I’m a firm believer that every person should be able to run to save not only themselves but someone they love from danger or harm. It might not be zombies, but whatever it may be… at least you’ll be ready.

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Karen March 15, 2011 - 12:44 PM

You’ve got me sitting here thinking, “OMG!! I’ve got to be fitter than Jada!!!”

Erika Nicole Kendall March 15, 2011 - 12:51 PM

Man… Jada didn’t even run – she got caught up in the seats of the darn movie theatre. She had no chance.

And BOOOO to the writers of Scream 2 killing almost ALL the Black folks within the first ten minutes of the movie. Satire and all that… it still made me sad. ROFL

Kait March 15, 2011 - 12:46 PM

Hi Erika,

My biggest question/issue/what-have-you with interval training is how to know when you’re time is up. It seems like quite the hassle to have to keep checking a watch or resetting your stop watch or whatever. So how do you keep track?

I’m a grab-and-go, tell-me-what-to-do type of exerciser (why I LOVE group fit classes) but really need to get my cardio up (when I’m not dying of yet another pulmonary infection).


Erika Nicole Kendall March 15, 2011 - 12:51 PM

I’ll cover this tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kait March 16, 2011 - 10:40 AM

THANK YOU! Haha Its funny because I don’t consider myself lazy, I just like to zone out during my workouts…why I LOVE hot yoga! I get to be totally in my body and not worried about where my mind is or thinking about anything besides how my body feels and whether I need to push a little or reign it in.

Becca March 16, 2011 - 11:20 PM

I always just go till I get tired, then use the easy point of the interval to rest up, then go again. You may not get in but 3 to 4 reps, but you’ve completely worked yourself as hard as you can.

Robyn June 11, 2011 - 2:18 PM

There are many options for this:

1) if you have a smart phone you can download an interval training app, it beeps at set intervals
2) if you are running on a treadmill you can use the interval training program
3) running around a track, you can run the straight part and walk the curved part
4) running in a park, you can run up a hill and walk down the hill to recover
5) or just run until you are tired and then walk until you recover

Many options, but just remember to continue to push yourself to go a little longer at high intensity each time. I have read that 20 minutes 3 times a week of interval training is good enough to start having benefits. And that interval training also makes weight training more effective (something to do with stimulating growth hormone production).

Shana March 15, 2011 - 1:02 PM

This article came just in time. I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about the Zombie Apocalypse, and I was left there wondering what would I do. Thanks to this article I will now get my running shoes. At least I will live a little longer because eventually the zombies will again super human strength, and at that point I am just screwed.

Nicole March 15, 2011 - 1:02 PM

I for the longest have been trying to figure out how to build up my stamina so that I can become the runner that I have always wanted to be. Thank You for this article

Curlstar March 15, 2011 - 1:34 PM

Erika, I’m giving you side eyes because my husband LOVES every Living Dead zombie movie there is to know of. day of the dead, dawn of the dead, night of the dead, 30 days dead, dead of the dead, date of the dead (I’m making some of these up, but you get the point) I was beginning to say OMG not her too when I saw the title of this post. LOL But I see your point! ๐Ÿ™‚

I know you are gonna cover this tomorrow for Kait and anyone else interested, but I have this lovely lil’ FREE app (I love my iPod, and the FREE apps) called Get Running that can take you through intervals at the right times, reminding you the whole way while you listen to your favorite tunes. Something like this may help anyone else that may be looking for something FREE to help with interval training (I’m cheap too, so I had to make sure that I mentioned that it’s FREE LOL)

Ti March 15, 2011 - 1:36 PM

I’m in agreement with all of this. Especially this part “Yโ€™know, the wall where you feel like if you go any further, you might keel over and die? Yeah, youโ€™re not gonna keel over and die.” and here’s why —

I started doing EA Active on my Wii. I will not/ cannot wake up in the morning for the treadmill but I can for the Wii. The “personal trainer” on this program does not allow you to quit. If you want credit for the day’s workout you have to complete the entire workout. No skipping ahead, pausing actvities or the like. And if you’re not moving fast enough or stop altogether, the trainer fusses until you start moving at the appropriate speed. So I noticed that to get through the jogging section, I would figure out how to just keep going because I didn’t want to waste my workout time and STILL not get to finish.

One evening on my treadmill, it dawned on me — I can jog with the Wii, why can’t I jog on the treadmill? So I tried it for 5 minutes. and I didn’t die. And less than a week later I was day dreaming while doing my 5 minutes and went over that — and didn’t die. The next time I tried to go over, and I did. Soon I was up to 22 minutes of jogging. Recognizing that your mind has as much to do with it as your body is a big deal. And, like you, I’d rather the zombies ravage my corpse than my live body. woooo sahhhh. speaking of running… I need to get back to my cardio workouts VERY soon.

Reggie Carr March 15, 2011 - 1:47 PM

Remember the first rule when dealing with the zombie apocalypse in ZombieLand: “The first rule of Zombieland: Cardio.
When the zombie outbreak first hit, the first to go, for obvious reasons… were the fatties.” –Columbus (played by Jesse Eisenberg)

Awesome post by the way. And I read about the first 6 books of the Walking Dead myself ๐Ÿ˜› Real good comic series; I suggest it to anyone who likes horror comics.

Aneadra March 15, 2011 - 2:16 PM

I’m gonna try this. But i’m dreading that ” I’m gonna die” feeling. :/

Off topic: **SPOILER**

Did you see how the sista just let herself fricassee in the last ep of the Walking Dead? She ain’t have to go out like dat! LOL

LNicole March 15, 2011 - 3:09 PM

I have been using the app Couch to 5K and it is amazing. It has my music playlist on it and a voice interrupts when it is time to switch between walking and running. Definitely worth the $4.99 I paid for it!!

Ti March 18, 2011 - 11:37 AM

that’s awesome!!!

Max April 18, 2011 - 3:58 PM

Tickled pink to find out there are iPod apps out there for exercise, thanks!

Lisa May 30, 2011 - 1:52 PM

Oh my gosh you are so funny! But it’s true, we gotta be in shape in case we have to run from some monsters, love it.

Stefanie August 5, 2011 - 10:22 AM

In my opinion you are a very good writer. You know how to bring the audience in with a capturing story such as the Zombies, get to the core of your point (health), and lighten it back up with the Zombie story to keep it interesting. Great job!

Alexis October 30, 2011 - 10:13 AM

Whats funny is, i think of this every time I see a scary movie! I think man I gotta step it up They just ran two miles screamin like crazy and their still not out of breath haha

Donna October 31, 2011 - 4:24 PM

ok, I will admit that I love “The Walking Dead”…loved it since the first season..I assume that if something like that were to happen, I wouldn’t have a problem running because my adrenaline will kick in and keep me moving…but you are right..I need to get my cardio in order as well as my flexibility (yoga)…I might have to squeeze into a tight spot to hide or something…

I have the c25K program on my Iphone and if you are using a treadmill, you can always select the “interval” program on the machine to adjust your runs…

Ktz January 23, 2012 - 3:18 PM

Heh, heh, I just saw this link and I am laughing because I often tell my roommates that I am working on my pushups not just to be fit but to swing a sledgehammer or an ax during the zombie apocolypse.

I can only do 20 and they are a struggle. I have no willpower so eventhough I am paying I haven’t been to the gym except for social calls in months.

I am drinking the water and I’ve given up booze and fast food but my snacks?!? The best I can do is eat the ones I have an not replace them after they are all gone. My goal is 2lbs a week. I’ve lost more but I still haven’t changed my goal. It is depressing to have a big goal off in the distance that I may never make.

In addition to wanting to swing my way out of the zombie apocalypse, when I drink my water, make myself a sandwich instead of eating fastfood and do my pushups, I just keep saying, “do something good for yourself”. Now if only I can convince myself to go to the gym. These two pound losses will not continue forever, I need to do better for me.

ktzmiao February 28, 2012 - 3:19 PM

I thought you’d get a kick out of this,,,


It’s a Zombie Themed 5K run,,, might as well practice before the real deal ๐Ÿ™‚

Kenya April 26, 2012 - 10:23 AM

I just started interval training this week. It’s really hard, but the payoff will be worth it. I must outrun those pesky zombies. Thanks for this post, it’s both informative and entertaining.

Nyota Vargas May 29, 2012 - 11:36 AM

Love zombie anything btw. But even having the cardio strength for natural disasters, if there’s a fire,earthquake and you really had to run. I worked with a woman and her mother was in 9/11, and she was obese, she ended up having to be assisted out, you want to be able to move on your own.

Krystal August 2, 2012 - 9:10 AM

Black girls not lasting long in these zombie episodes?!?! Wait until Walking Dead season 3! Michonne is going to be amazing! But thanks for tying fitness into one of my fave nerd genres! There are great tips here and I plan to use all of them! ๐Ÿ™‚

Aja August 2, 2012 - 8:33 PM

This post is right on time! I just signed up for the “Run for Your Lives” zombie apocalypse 5k and am trying to make sure that I am not the lone black girl “dying” 30 seconds into the race. I’ve run a 5k, but not without mini walking breaks in between– 2 months left to get myself apocalypse ready.

KeKe October 2, 2012 - 12:18 PM

I just started interval training two weeks ago and I am on it…lol! To my surprise I actually enjoy running….I want to run a 5K soon. However, I need to get my stamina up! Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Team Member on Deck (as my cousins and I say: The Killer will not get me)…lol

Mecca January 6, 2013 - 2:59 PM

Love this! And yes, imma believer in the Zombie Apocalypse! Lol
In addition to cardio training. It’s important to know how to recognize food in its natural habitat/environment, how to clean, prepare and eat it. It’s one of the key reason my family (bonafide city slickers) began gardening. Growing fruits and veggies, caring for them, saving seeds, etc. it’s important for “normal” everyday living but crucial in situations where you need to start over n a new place with little means to do it. I’m not saying everyone should go full on survivalist mode (because those folks be cray cray) but I do believe that the cardio strengthening and knowing how to find and grow food are paramount to allot us surviving a major event be it nuclear, economic infrastructure or zombie made. Love y’all!

Francesca February 16, 2013 - 10:45 PM

Ericka, you’ve just become, as Wendy Williams would say, my ‘friend in my head.’ I’ve just about had this exact conversation with my husband, and it all started with The Walking Dead. And, don’t be bashful about that nerdy/geeky side. I have an issue of the comic queued up on another tab. Ever tried the Walking Dead Workout?


Ikam Acosta March 22, 2013 - 10:04 AM

This reminds me of when I was little and used to watch movies with my grandma, every time we used to see on e in which someone was running from a killer and squeezing through a window, my grandma would say (in Spanish) “See? This is why we have to be skinny.” LOL

euniqua April 14, 2013 - 3:51 PM

I think I’m faster than a zombie’s top speed of 2 mph!

Erika Nicole Kendall April 14, 2013 - 10:17 PM

But has this been confirmed?

Or, are zombies a lot like humans in that some are faster, potentially more fit than others? I mean, if you are being chased by a zombie who used to be a marathon runner, you might could be screwed.


euniqua April 14, 2013 - 10:34 PM

LOL!! You have a very well thought out theory about marathon-fit zombies!

Erika Nicole Kendall April 15, 2013 - 4:30 PM

I agonize about this. Those little buggers aren’t gonna get ME. LOL

Karen October 9, 2014 - 9:35 PM

I am *highly* motivated by the prospect of the zombie apocalypse, which is why the Zombies, Run! app is the best thing on my iPhone (after maps and weather and Instagram, of course). And I love seeing friends try it and get hooked!

Tabitha Talon October 1, 2015 - 12:44 PM

Okay I like this post. That is what I am doing now, power walking then jog a little, I have even done a hard dash run with all this weight. My current issue is my chest LOL, I need that sports bra that will keep them still and not hurt my back and shoulders.

This blog and seeing things I can do myself has been inspiring me to work harder to lose this weight. Its going to take some time, two years even but I can do it!!

Amber Fallon April 22, 2016 - 9:45 AM

As a horror writer known as z0mbiegrl, I am loving this post!

And yes, the fitter the live person, the fitter the zombie… although whether or not they are ‘fast zombies’ would determine how much that might matter to your survival…

Erika Nicole Kendall April 22, 2016 - 4:00 PM

True, but it’s not just about speed! It’s about endurance, right? You’ve got to be able to keep a steady pace to get to safety if that’s what it calls for! You could have a herd following you, and need to put some distance between you! LOLOL

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