Ideally, we should look forward to exercising. Dreading an integral part of a healthy lifestyle makes falling off the wagon more likely; if you like what you’re doing, you’re more likely to keep it up. The easiest way to achieve this is to incorporate the Primal concept of play into everyday life, whether it’s Ultimate Frisbee, playing with your kids, or going for a hike. Activities like these can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone who’s physically able, and they’re legitimately fun – the perfect disguise for actual exercise. But what about the requisite weight lifting or intense aerobic activity prescribed by the Primal Blueprint? Excepting of course the gluttons for punishment (and there are many among us), it can be difficult to make those fun. Sure, they’re highly rewarding and we always feel better for having worked out, but they can be – by definition – fairly unpleasant.
A common mistake people make when completely overhauling their lifestyle is excessive earnestness, none more culpable than the recently converted Primal Blueprint enthusiast. You know it’s true, at least at first. You read about the monumental implications of eating and living the way our Primal ancestors did, see a few before-and-after photos of people on the Primal plan, think about how you could eat all the (good) fat, meat, eggs, and nuts you want if you adopted it, and suddenly you’re cleaning out your fridge and tossing all the pasta, rice, and beans in your cupboards – and you’re doing so with the single-mindedness of a zealot. You roll your eyes at your friends and their bagels; you scoff at the top-heavy frat boy doing a dozen sets of inverted bicep curls at your gym; and you offer passing joggers tips on high intensity beach sprints. But despite your unbridled enthusiasm, something is wrong. You’re so focused on getting “in tune” with your Primal past that it becomes work – just another issue to worry about. And a big goal of the Primal Blueprint is getting away from the trappings and stresses of modern life. When our relationship with our Primal ancestors gets distilled into just a diet and exercise regimen, we’ve lost sight of that ultimate goal. By all means, pay attention to what you’re eating and how you’re exercising. Just don’t forget that the Primal Blueprint is intended to improve your life, not burden it.
As Primal enthusiasts, we owe it to ourselves to spend time in the great outdoors – early man’s original stomping grounds. Sadly enough, the increasing encroachment of civilization upon nature’s boundaries makes it easy for most people to forget about the wilderness. Opting for the mall or the TV is simply easier and more convenient than making the trek out to the woods and connecting with our Primal roots. But mimicking Grok has many health benefits. We are products of Mother Nature. This idea forms the backbone of the Primal Blueprint. We’ve since moved onto condos and white bread, but that doesn’t erase the fact that our bodies are attuned to living in the wild (and all that such a life entails). Which is why we highly encourage you to “get Primal” in the great outdoors. In this PB adventure not only will you be getting away from the city for some fresh air and a stress-free experience, but you’ll also be moving your body like Grok for natural fitness gains and soaking up some valuable rays for the all-important Vitamin D in the process.
Think working out in a city has to mean sucking exhaust while you jog on the side of a busy street? Not with these fun, and at times, extreme-alternative workouts.
Remember the scene in “Casino Royale” where 007 himself scales a crane and frantically tries to catch what we initially assume is some kind of extreme gymnast? Turns out that villain was actually a parkour artist (or traceur as they are also referred to). Founded by a guy called David Belle, parkour is all about accessing the seemingly inaccessible, usually to escape or evade pursuers (or dapper English gentlemen depending on your situation). Unlike free runners (more on that later) traceurs try to clear objects – be it barrels, bars, bollards or other barriers – in the simplest and most efficient method possible. Incorporate parkour type moves into your own workout by heading to a “quieter” edge of the city and dodging, jumping or vaulting over barriers and other obstacles, swinging through railings and climbing up low brick walls (just don’t scare the neighbors!)
10. Check out the local real estate.
Walking through your neighborhood (or any neighborhood you admire) is a natural workout that is also an effective way to clear your head and reflect on the day. I get a 45-minute walk in while my son is at his music lesson. If you’re tired of walking around your own ‘hood, explore one you’ve been curious about. You just might find a good scoop on real estate while you’re at it.
Hikes don’t have to be intensive all-day expeditions (though this is a very primal thing to do). Most towns have well-maintained, short hiking trails available nearby if you simply do some digging. Even a brisk walk around the local park is energizing. Make a point of getting out into the fresh air and soaking up a little vitamin-D-recharging sunlight as often as you can. I think 20 or 30 minutes daily of fresh air and light exposure is essential for good health – so do it as often as you can. A “hike” doesn’t need to kill you for days afterwards; an hour and a local hill are all you need.
8. Beach games.
If you’re near a lakefront or beach, invest 20 bucks in a good array of Nerf balls, Frisbees and other amateur sports equipment for some carefree physical fun with the family or your buddies. Do this once a week and it’ll feel like socializing instead of a workout (we’ve been doing Sunday group workouts like Frisbee and it’s been a blast). That’s really the whole message I want to reinforce here: exercise is a natural, enjoyable, and refreshing part of life, not another relentless chore on your to-do list. Reframe your mental image of exercise and watch your health improve.
7. Play with the kids.
Nothing beats quality time with your kids. Rough house, toss around a baseball, visit the local pool, have a water balloon fight in the backyard, get into a pillow fight (careful on the last one, dads). Physical play is a bonding activity that doesn’t even feel like exercise.
6. Rearrange the furniture.
Periodically rearranging your furnishings is great for your mental health, but it’s also a good physical workout. Obviously you wouldn’t do this every week, but if you haven’t given your digs a refresh in a while, try it. All that pushing and pulling is a phenomenal weight-bearing workout session that the gym rats tirelessly replicate. You’ve got your own “gym” at home (and talk about a great way to clear your head and get into the moment).
5. Walk at the mall.
If you’ve got errands or enjoy window-shopping (I’d sooner count fork tines), this is a no-brainer workout. Just take a pedometer and make sure you log a couple miles. I get a lot of emails from people asking about ideal exercise methods and routines, often with the implied assumption that exercise has to be some sort of complicated, separate, intense deal to “count”. Not so. Walking is perhaps the best exercise, and certainly the most natural, of all.
4. Wash the cars.
Turn a Saturday chore into a fun family event. All that scrubbing and waxing is a terrific upper-body workout.
This ought to do it. BWC Flickr Photo (CC)
3. Spring cleaning…party.
Need to get up on the roof and scrape those drains or deal with a loose shutter? That’s an excellent workout, but why not make it fun and get in five or ten of them? Host a neighborhood spring cleaning party where everyone gets together for a few weekends and pitches in on big cleaning and clearing jobs at everyone’s homes.
2. Walk downtown.
Do you have a lively or vibrant downtown district in your city? Walking is something we all need to do more of, and checking out the markets, shops and artists downtown (or beach-side) is a cheap date everyone loves – and you can’t beat people-watching.
1. What’s your best non-workout workout?
You may be “working out” more than you realize…or perhaps not enough. Services are convenient and increasingly affordable, but there’s something to be said for washing your own car and mowing your own lawn. Beats the gym. Playing, walking, chores – these things are not only budget-friendly and socially healthy, they come with the workout built-in. I try to see “chores” as a welcome chance to unwind and recharge (it’s my version of meditation).
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