Being active is an integral part of the Paleo lifestyle. I have been an active person for most of my life. My educational background is in Exercise Science. Because of that, I have opinions on what constitutes an appropriate exercise program. The Ancestral Health proponents suggest incorporating activities similar to those our hunter-gatherer forebears did into our daily lives. The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet, The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series), Everyday Paleo
and The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us about Weight Loss, Fitness, and Aging all make similar recommendations regarding exercise. These are:
- Move around a lot: Perform activities such as walking, hiking, cycling, swimming or “easy cardio” for 2-5 hours per week. These should be done at 55-75% of your maximal heart rate
- Build strength: Work out 2 times a week for 15-30 minutes, focusing on functional body movements like squats, lunges, pulling, pushing. Body weight calisthenics are an effective way to do this.
- Sprint or do interval training: One to two times a week engage in an activity such as sprinting or interval training for 20-30 minutes
These recommendations are somewhat different from the program I had been following. I had been doing interval training 3 times a week for 40 minutes, minimal sporadic strength training, and cardio work at 80-85% of my maximal heart rate three times a week for 40-60 minutes at a time.
The Paleo fitness guidelines warn against chronic cardio (Basically what I had been doing) because it can elevate cortisol levels.
I decided to jump into the Paleo lifestyle 100%, so I adjusted my workout schedule to meet the guidelines outlined above. So far the results have been good. I feel like I am maintaining my cardiac fitness. My strength is increasing. I’m actually performing better during my intervals after dropping to only twice a week.
Changing up my cardio workouts has been good for me mentally as well as physically. I started hiking in our local state park for an hour on the two nights I would normally go to spin class. Hiking is my primary method of stress reduction. I’ll be back in the spin class (working at 55-75% of my HR max) when it gets too dark or wet to hike after work.
The Airedale Terrierists also enjoy hiking.
If you would like additional information on the topic of Paleo/Primal Fitness, Mark Sisson has a free download, The Primal Blueprint Fitness eBook, which is available at his website.
Coming tomorrow: It’s Five Finger Friday!