I specifically waited until well after the New Year to talk about fitness. I didn’t want this column to be one of those “new year, new me” diatribes that appear every time December gives way to January. This is not about making a New Year’s resolution; this is about making a commitment to your health—and, ultimately, your safety.

If you are not involved in some sort of regular fitness regimen, then you are not ready for the most intense 30 seconds of your life. Last week I told you the root word of gunfight is “fight,” not “gun.” If you think that strapping on a holster and a spare magazine pouch makes you ready to fight, you will be sorely mistaken if the day ever comes that you must defend yourself. This is not Hollywood. A deadly force encounter will not be a carefully scripted scenario. It will be dynamic, violent, and brutal.

Maybe I should take a step back and ask what you think a deadly force encounter will look like? Very likely you will not be walking down the street when a man comes up, pulls out a gun, and says, “Gimme your wallet!”

At that point I would likely give up the wallet or toss him a fake one and run the other way.

A real-world deadly force encounter could very likely put you in a physical struggle as you try to create distance from your attacker, defend and access your weapon, direct a family member out of harm’s way, or attempt to redirect a sudden assault. These are all things that require immediate explosive action. If you are in poor physical condition, moving from zero to 60 as fast as possible could cause problems. Rapid movement under stress could cause anything from a pulled muscle to a complete loss of balance. You could be out of the fight before you know it.

Now, I know what I will hear from many readers: “I’m not as young as I used to be!” I get that. But if you are still able to walk around, then I suggest you start walking around. Get moving. Work out according to your age and ability. Of course younger people can do more vigorous exercises—and if you are able to do it, you should do it. But if you are older, something as simple as a daily walk can help you get started.

What you are going to need includes improved arm and hand strength, better balance, and improved cardiovascular health. I’m not saying you need to become an Olympic athlete; I’m saying you need to improve your current level of fitness. We can all get better. We can all take a few minutes each day to exercise. All it takes is a 20-minute walk and some simple weightlifting.

You can do this. If you claim to have the heart of a warrior, you can improve that heart with some regular exercise.