It’d be nice if regular activity was woven into our daily lives so that we could stay lean, strong, and fit without really thinking about it, but that’s not the world most of us live in. We have to set aside time to move our bodies. But, as I always say, this doesn’t mean we have to exercise atop a conveyor belt with a TV in front of it doing everything we can to forget that we’re even exercising in the first place. It doesn’t mean the workouts have to take an hour to complete. And it certainly doesn’t mean you need a gym to get in some good activity. That’s why I started writing the Workouts of the Week, a compendium of fun, effective, varied workouts for you to try. Readers still visit the archives to shake up their routines, so be sure to check them out if you’re in the market.
Today, I add ten additional fast but effective workouts to the list.
Last week, I covered a glaring deficit in the lives of most modern people: the lack of walking. And it’s not just the “normal” people who aren’t walking enough; two thirds of those readers who took the poll get fewer than five hours of slow easy movement each week. Since everyone walks at least a few hundred steps a day, people are generally aware – among even the general population – that people just don’t walk anymore. They might not think that’s a true problem, but they’re definitely aware of it. Today, I want to discuss another glaring (in my eyes) deficit in our modern lives: the lack of sprinting.
At first glance, this might seem ludicrous. Sprinting? Sure, it’s a cool thing to do, and it’s good for us, but do you really expect everyone to line up at a track and sprint all out for 100 meters? Besides, is sprinting really essential, the way walking is essential? Because let’s face it: running at top speed for 10 to 15 seconds is an unrealistic expectation for most people, especially older folks. Many people just aren’t physically able to do it.
Dr. Loren Cordain and a few MD colleagues have recently published a paper (PDF) called “Organic Fitness: Physical Activity Consistent with Our Hunter-Gatherer Heritage.” It makes for a great companion piece to Primal Blueprint Fitness, and it encapsulates quite nicely the breadth of research into the physical activities of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Read the whole thing. There’s probably nothing really new to you guys already well-versed in this stuff, but it’s good having it all in one space, and it’s good having it from more sources (not just me). If someone ever asks you why you go barefoot, avoid weight machines, squat below parallel (don’t you know it’s bad for your knees!?!), go on hikes for fun without sunscreen, and hate treadmills, you can send along a nice, neat package including the PBF eBook and the Cordain paper. This isn’t a “nyah, nyah, proven right again!” type thing (well, kinda). This is a “buttressing the incoming unavoidable inexorable impossible-to-ignore flood of evidence in favor of listening to evolution in matters of health and fitness” type thing. The times they are a changin’, eh?
Anyway, let’s get to the meaty bits of the paper – to what they call the “fundamental elements of ‘organic exercise,’ which may serve as a template from which to design a fitness strategy for adults living in today’s modern industrialized culture.” I’ve bolded and italicized their words (from a section of which the title of this article is derived) and followed up with my commentary:
For this next introduction – or re-hashing, for some of you – of an essential Primal concept, I’ll be covering the three basic Primal laws of fitness (click the image to zoom in). This one can be the most difficult hurdle for some. If you’re carrying a personal history of weight gain, for example, you’re most likely somewhat inactive, too. Being overweight, you see, leads to inactivity. And yeah, being inactive can perpetuate the weight gain, but it usually starts with a bit of added weight and the sluggishness that comes along for the ride. Good times, right? They end this month.
UPDATE: Wow! Quite the response to this post! I had a good chuckle at many of the comments at first, but things have spiraled out of control a bit. First, let’s please keep things nice and civil in the comment boards. Heated arguments are one thing. Nasty ad hominem attacks are another, and they’ll be removed. Second, the reality is that if you never get within 40 yards of your target they’ll never be aware of your existence. I thought it went without saying, but don’t invade anyone’s personal space and don’t do anything else that common sense tells you not to do. I took out the line “Hide behind a tree for a second or two.” just so no one gets the wrong idea.
In most locales, summer is upon us. The sun acts as powerful beacon, a call to action for even the habitually sedentary to venture out and frolic in its rays. Hopeful mothers and fathers nudge chubby kids with creaky Xbox fingers, barely able to grasp the brand new football with which they’ve been tasked, out the door to partake in a mysterious, archaic activity known as “play.” Running shoes are finally removed from shoeboxes and attached to feet. Excuses to avoid going outside grow exceedingly pathetic and totally unconvincing, even to the skilled self-deceivers, who can no longer deny the basic awesomeness of a summer day. Squinting into this wonderful, terrible new light, they all gather in public areas – parks, hiking trails, outdoor malls, beaches – each in turn making personal pledges (or fulfilling imposed ones) that this will be the summer they finally take advantage of the great outdoors.
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