Target hardening is a term borrowed from the physical security world, one in which I have been active in as long as I have been a trainer.
The concept behind target hardening is to enhance and add protective measures to a facility/built environment.
The particular measures and operational practices which are designed to deter, detect, deny, and defend the protected environment from internal and external threats.
Let’s imagine that our bodies are the protected environment, what can we do to minimize the damage from internal and external threats?
As with the physical security world, we need to do a threat assessment to identify what we might face in the near or far future that could harm us.
My recommendation for a health threat assessment process is to apply an inside – out approach – assess where threats may come from internally and then look to where your health can be undermined by external factors.
Step 1: Identify your family genetics and history of disease.
By understanding what internal health dangers your ancestors faced, you can take corrective action to avoid certain behaviors, foods, or environments that can potentially lead to poor health.
Step 2: Routinely have thorough medical check ups with blood screening.
If your internal health is normal and all is sound, continue on your healthy living path. If one or multiple red flags pop up, it might be time to adopt new approaches to eating, exercising and general lifestyle choices.
Step 3: Assess your external environment – home, school, work, and lifestyle.
There are elements in our external environments of which we can’t control. Perhaps due to financial reasons or family obligations some us may live in areas with poor air quality, crime, constant noise (I used to live four stories up from the Long Island Rail Road in Queens, NY), or be forced to work crazy hours or juggle multiple jobs and school. Our external environments can put us into a disadvantage when it comes to our health.
Other lifestyle dangers are hidden – such as being sedentary. Imagine commuting an hour plus to and from work, in which during work your are seated at a desk or cubicle for 7 plus hours. The muscles atrophy, the body’s metabolism suffers, and stress levels increase by being too sedentary for too long. Add to the mix that many with desk jobs are hunched over a computer, now we have a recipe for poor health.
Step 4: Identify Professional Hazards of Your Profession.
Not everyone will fall into this category, but there are inherent risks in certain professions that people do by choice out of service to the community, country, and even for athletic achievement. Police officers, firefighters, military servicemen and women, and security personnel are some of the “tactical” professions whose jobs demand a high level of physical fitness but come with a higher level of direct and indirect threats to their well being.
Obviously athletes are who they are by committing to regimens of physical training and nutrition in order to excel at competition. Athletes who participate in contact sports, accept the dangers that come with playing or competing in their sport. Some sports expose athletes to greater odds of injury than others, but in any case all athletes need to prepare their bodies and minds for the rigors of competing while minimizing the opportunity for injury or over training.
This was the Target Hardening the Body Part I – The Assessment. Stay tuned for Part II, where I will discuss action plans to overcome identifiable threats to one’s health.