Paleo Fitness Program

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!

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