The Importance of Play, Long Walks and Outdoor Workouts, or Why the Optional Stuff Isn’t Actually Optional

Before I get to today’s Monday Musings I wanted to give a shout out and big thanks to everyone that came out the inaugural PAST in Southern California this weekend. It was wonderful meeting each of you in person. And because of you the first event was a smashing success. So thank you!

Coming out of the gate, this event surpassed my expectations by a large margin. 30 devoted Primal enthusiasts trekked from all over SoCal and even as far as Phoenix to spend 7 hours immersed in all matters Primal. We convened at Karma Crossfit in Manhattan Beach thanks to our gracious hostess Katy Rickman. I was particularly impressed by the knowledge and passion from the audience about the Primal Blueprint, and how quickly they absorbed and appreciated the message. The guests added so much to the event and kept me excited and energized for 7 hours, which I must admit is about twice as long as I’ve ever talked in a single day.

I’m really excited about the remaining dates on our PAST agenda, as is Brad Kearns, my writing partner who helped me create the presentation and will deliver several of the upcoming seminars. Whether you are a dabbler or a diehard Mark’s Daily Apple regular with a battered, dog-eared copy of the Primal Blueprint on your kitchen table, I promise that you will get tremendous value from the PAST seminar. Our able video director Bradford Hodgson filmed the entire event and we are preparing some select excerpts to help give you a sense of what PAST is all about – stay tuned! Now on to the Musings…

Contrary to popular belief, what many describe as optional is actually not optional in the pursuit of physical excellence. “Try working out outdoors” or “Go on a hike” is not just tentatively recommended advice to be discarded or glossed over. Long walks don’t belong in the miscellaneous category, and playing is as important as lifting heavy things. All this stuff – the play, being outdoors, the frequent bouts of moving slowly – is crucial. I should know this better than anyone, but I still forget. I’ll move my schedule around to fit in a circuit of dips, pullups, squats, and sprints, only to skip the forty-five minute walk I had planned that evening and screw around online reading blogs and papers instead. I am good about making the Ultimate game every week now, but I wasn’t always. These are areas where I need to improve. They’re weak spots for me – and, I gather, for a lot of you as well. Jobs, families, extracurricular responsibilities, and money get in the way and cannot be ignored, sure, but we also can’t ignore the demands of our ancient physiologies. So, in this week’s edition of Monday Musings, I’m going to briefly discuss a few bits of research that highlight the importance of fixing those weak spots.

They don’t call it the great outdoors for nothing, according to the authors of a recent systematic review of studies comparing outdoor workouts to indoor workouts. Overwhelmingly, outdoor workouts won. Outdoor workouts resulted in greater revitalization, increased energy, and more positive engagement, along with less depression, anger, confusion, and tension. While it would have been extremely cool if there were more decidedly “physical” benefits to working out outdoors, like “higher levels of protein synthesis in the lats when doing pullups from a tree branch” or “more recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers when power cleaning a dew-soaked log,” the improvements to mental health are just as important. We can get the physical benefits of exercise anywhere, but exercise should be more than just protein synthesis and muscle fiber recruitment. Besides, the authors hope to do more research into the unique physical benefits – if they exist – of outdoor exercise. Off the top of my head, I’d guess that they’d come from increased buy-in/enthusiasm and maybe performance boosts from visualization/immersion. Also, consider the randomness of the wild; real hills are better than pre-programmed hill simulators.

What about play? People use both mind and body to play, as you well now. They cavort, they roughhouse, they dance, they gamble, they throw dice, they simulate war using pieces of plastic on a cardboard surface, they conduct complex sports games using rubber spheres, they form leagues around these sphere games, they follow professionals who play in such leagues for massive sums of money, they pose and solve puzzles and riddles. They play games and sports, and have been doing so for a long time. Archaeologists have been finding evidence of play in digs for years, but, because it’s “just” games, it gets ignored. A Swedish grad student, Elke Rogersdotter, who’s doing her thesis on the importance of play in the ancient world, sees it differently. She’s been studying a recently excavated 4000-year old city in current-day Pakistan. Gaming artifacts, like dice and game pieces, are turning up in every tenth find from the city. And they aren’t scattered around randomly; they’re concentrated in certain areas and there are patterns to their dispersal, suggesting dedicated gaming sites and a large formal role for play in the Bronze Age city. The evidence places play at 4,000 years, but I’d say the spirit of gaming has been around for far longer. As more archaeologists wise up to the role of play in human history, expect for that official number to get a whole lot bigger. Maybe we’ll even get some physical anthropologists weighing in on the subject.

How about walking? Researchers found that a year of walking forty minutes a day, three days a week, increased the size of the hippocampus by 2% in a group of older sedentary adults. Another group, same demographics, did a year of yoga and lost hippocampus mass – 1.4%. Losing that much mass is pretty normal for the age group (mid to late 60s), but adding any, let alone 2%? That’s significant. Spatial memory improved in both groups, with the walking group seeing the biggest improvements. In fact, hippocampus size increases correlated with memory improvements. Easy neurogenesis – not a bad deal, eh? Try pairing your walking with some strength training for even better results.

I don’t think playing games, spending time outside, and going for a few walks each week are burdens. On the contrary, they’re essential. So why do we treat them like they’re optional?

They aren’t.

What do you think, readers? Do you treat certain Primal lifestyle behaviors as if they were optional? Do you find value in play, long walks and outdoor workouts in your own life? Let me know in the comment board!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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83 thoughts on “The Importance of Play, Long Walks and Outdoor Workouts, or Why the Optional Stuff Isn’t Actually Optional”

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  1. i read “hippopotamus” not “hippocampus,” and i thought to myself, how did they run that study? how do you make hippos do yoga?

    then i read it again.

    1. Glad I found this post. In the Northeast, winters can get brutal, a fact that has done a number on my walking schedule. It’s not just the cold. It’s also the snow, the sleet and the ice some of which may not melt for weeks at a time. This can make walking or jogging outside tough and a little bit dangerous. Any suggestions? In the meantime, I’ve been taking Zumba classes to maintain my fun quotient, but I’d really like to get out for some air more often.

      1. You got snow, I say work with it.

        Build a snowman.
        Go sledding.
        Engage in a snowball fight.

        It only comes once a year, right?

        1. Riza, our family bought Stabilicers which are a kind of cleats for walking on ice. They or their kin work great. They also help with traction when shoveling snow. And there is at least one jogger in town that has some version of these to jog in.

          Also bought a Wovel for snow shoveling which has allowed my neighbor and I to shovel our HUGE shared driveway this winter rather than hiring a plow.

          I am sure we have moved tons of snow already. I favor doing this rather than lifting weights. However, after shoveling, I have no energy for winter play. But then, I am an old person.

    2. I read it “hippopotamus” as well..most confusing couple of sentences! Took about the 4th try before I realized my mistake. 🙂

  2. As I have added exercise back into my life, I have treated the long walks without less commitment than the strength training; however I think the basic movement piece is probably the underpinning that I need to make sure I do almost every day.

  3. Wish I were less of a wimp about getting out for a walk when it’s cold. My body is telling me to hibernate or go to a warm gym for yoga.

    1. I used to have that problem until I bought a 650-fill down coat with a giant hood that covers my face … now I sweat on the Subway, but don’t often find myself overly cold. (I *hate* cold, so this was a remarkable life change.)

  4. I prefer to workout outside, and have set up a pull up bar under my deck, have two slosh pipes, and two sledge hammers and a tire. Unfortunately it works best for summer and autumn, but not so great for winter and spring (it snows a lot in Colorado in spring.

    But yesterday it was almost 70 degrees and I went for a 90 minute walk and stopped at three playgrounds along the way to do pull ups.

    The thing I need to work on more is play. Definitely don’t do enough of that.

  5. I try to let only the wet weather keep me indoors. Otherwise, I’ve found it easier to keep the habit of walking up by incorporating small grocery trips into my outing. I choose the farthest of three local stores if I can (about 3 miles away) and take along a backpack.

  6. I’ve been walking an hour a day at least five days a week since mid-August. Now I crave being outdoors. I actually have tan lines despite use of sunscreen (we live in coastal NSW Australia and some days it’s just esssential) and I don’t think I’ve had any tanning color on my face and arms since I was a child.

  7. I’m sitting here soaking wet, having hiked in the rain for an hour so I’m pleased to read this.

    Walking in the wet or the cold and especially both is invigorating.

  8. I found out even 15 minute walk after dinner is way more important or as important doing sprints. it improves digestion, improves your sleep and unbeliavably all you eat is somehow disapprears..i guess it activates the 15 minutes walk or activity of any kind after each meal is mandatory for me

  9. wow, funny timing. I’ve been holed up in my house for the winter. I finally had an off day and a sitter, so i hit the gym for a good 2 hours! I started with the crossfit WOD, then I walked 4 miles+ while reading one of my business books. up hill, slow, fast, a few sprints…. I really amazed myself that I kept going… It made me realize how I just run into the gym, lift heavy, sprint a little, and leave usually (limited on time!) and I havent been replacing the park walking like I was doing last year…. thanks for the validation!

  10. What keeps me walking is my dog. We walk for about 30-45 minutes a day and there are only rare exceptions. I agree that walking in bad weather and cold is invigorating. If you can dress for it or tough it out it adds more adventure. I tell myself that I can’t do the WOW or LHT if I haven’t put in some good walks. What I have a problem keeping up with are sprints. I do tabata burpees followed by tabata squat thrusts on sprint days. Maybe I’ll try an everyother week rotation.

    1. I agree – most days my dog gets 2-3 20 minute walks from me (never mind the ones my husband gives him) – but the rest of it is harder to fit in…but I am getting there.


  11. Mark, I know it’s easy to forget what season it is when you live in Southern California–I’m originally from there, too, but I’m currently in the Midwest, in February, where the logs are most definitely not “dew-soaked.” I know it’s quite possible to get a good workout outside in the dead of winter, but it sure doesn’t seem as appealing as the mental image I get when I hear, “Exercise outdoors!” It’d be really cool (no pun intended) if you could do a post sometime about winter-specific activities, or advice on maintaining normal activities during the dark, windy, sludgy months!

    1. If you have access to a garage on the cold, snowy and/or rainy days try pulling out the car and leaving the door up while you workout. I live in MD and today I am finaly seeing signs that spring is finaly on its way!

    2. Another midwesterner here, and I hear you! BUT I have the opportunity to cross country ski every day with my dog, and it’s so awesome to be able to be outside. Nothing like a snowy day with lots of sunshine, out on a desolate golf course. Talk about immersion!

  12. I do WODs three times a week. But the two walk days are the best. I play golf,walk all 18 holes and carry my 20 lbs bag. What could be more primal. I pretend I am carrying meal that I killed with golf ball.

    1. If I had to eat what I killed with a golf ball, I would have starved a long, long time ago. Maybe I could track my prey with my slice into the woods!

  13. There was a show on PBS a couple months ago about how the variety of experience is just as important as the amount of activity in preserving mental youth and acuity. One of the activities they mentioned was geocaching. There’s a great description and lots of resources about this at, but in a nutshell, it’s like combining a hike with a treasure hunt, using a handheld GPS unit. Check it out!

  14. I love outside! Every day that it doesn’t rain, I am outside for at least 45 minutes. If my job and the weather allowed, I would spend hours rambling around outside in the woods or in the mountains. Alas, it rains an average of 5 days a week here in the winter and spring and I am not a huge fan of being wet and cold…..

  15. There’s nothing quite like a Canadian winter to get you outside – have been lifting shovel-fulls of snows quite a bit lately and it feels great!

    1. That’s pretty much been my outdoor workout for the last week in Indiana, too. Nearly 7 hours of chipping away at ice and snow (and that was just the two days I spent clearing tiny little paths for my wheels in the driveway) had me feeling fantastic for days!

  16. I’d never knock walking. But as to your citation “Another group, same demographics, did a year of yoga and lost hippocampus mass – 1.4%…”

    Well, if that was sitting around and doing some light stretching, I can believe it. But try some CorePower Yoga sometime, where you flow through complicated balancing postures and work your muscles.

    I doubt that the group they were studying were doing many headstands or sun salutations. I’ve seen many professional athletes (football pros and basketball pros) flat on the floor halfway through Bikram or CorePower sessions

  17. Although i live in a grimy, stinking city like London, i still walk everywhere. This equates to about 1.5 hrs a day just walking. The pollution is awful but i cannot do anything about that. When i go to my folks in the country, i will walk for 2 hrs +. It’s simply the best exercise imo.

  18. Okay, Its raining and 45 degrees outside. My wife is taking a nap. What should I do? I invested in rain gear for days like today. So, Out I go! thanks for the motivation!

  19. I wish that activity was more integrated into my lifestyle. Unfortunately, I find it a lot easier to schedule blocks of time for more intense activity at the gym, rather than just being active.

  20. I live on the edge of a small canyon in the Texas Hill country. Literally — my backyard slopes right down towards it.

    MY favorite daily activity (well at least 3-4x per week): hit a small bag of golf balls from my backyard to other side of canyon. Then I let my dogs out, and we hike own into the canyon — there I have some large rocks (50-150 lbs in range) that I use for cleans, clean and jerk, sumo dead lifts, and heavy walks. Then the dogs and I hike up the side of the canyon and hunt golf balls. All followed by a hike back home.

    Play, walk, time with my dogs, plus a little strength training. Love it.

  21. But its cold and raining cats n dogs all week long here :(:(:(


    I just got your cookbook in the mail – its awesome!

  22. Dogs are pretty useful for forcing long walks — so they aren’t optional around here.

    It would be interesting to determine why walking increase the hippocamus and yoga did not — maybe navigating though open space?

  23. As a city slicker, I must say that I must find a way to get outside more. For those of you who consider yourself more “Primal”, how much of that lifestyle choice would you say was/is influenced by your upbringing, whether environmental, or the habits of those that were the closest to you growing up?

    1. I was totally influenced by my mother. She walked everywhere and was still square dancing at 90. All her daughters prefer walking and our children are walkers as well.

  24. I am new two your site and your publications. And I LIKE them ALL!!

    Is there any way that you could limit your blog posts to say 500 words each?

    There is just too much to read each day.

    With appreciation,


    1. Whaaat? Don’t listen to him Mark please, I am always disappointed not to have MORE to read..Thanks by the way for all your great posts.

      Dear Carl, what about reading only one article out of 2? You can save half for the next day 😉

  25. Since there are no gyms in my area, I’ve had to make a living off of finding ways to work out outdoors, in any kind of weather. Even when I’m back in the states and around gyms, I plan on still going down to the local park to get my workouts in. Can’t beat it! Plus, if you get up early enough, it’s pretty sweet to sprint towards the sunrise.

  26. Today’s most popular forms of yoga combines two things that have been touted on this site – meditation and body-weight strength work. That article said the subjects did “stretching” – to conflate that with “yoga” and advocate walking as the better exercise for your brain is a little sloppy.

    1. Yes, Mark is mostly wrong about the control group. The linked post describes the control group as engaging in “stretching”.

      In the abstract, the actual published article describes the control group as being assigned to “stretching and toning”. In the paper, the control protocol is described as follows:

      “For the stretching and toning control program, all sessions were led and monitored by trained exercise leaders. All classes started and ended with warm-up and cool-down stretching. During each class, participants engaged in four muscle-toning exercises using dumbbells or resistance bands, two exercises designed to improve balance, one yoga sequence, and one exercise of their choice. To maintain interest, a new group of exercises was introduced every 3 wk. During the first week, participants focused on becoming familiar with the new exercises, and during the second and third weeks they were encouraged to increase the intensity by using more weight or adding more repetitions.”

      The published article may actually strengthen Mark’s argument, however, by describing a larger variety of exercises engaged in by the control group.

      Skip long walks at your peril (if you want to remember why you have such amazing upper body strength at 70).

  27. Not sure how you manage to zero in on stuff I’m currently ruminating on Mark, but there you go again. Spooky.

    In spite of enjoying a lot of progress with CrossFit over the last six months, I’ve recently been going through fatigue and resistance to doing the workouts at all. It hit me that this is in part due to my lack of “moving slowly at a frequent pace.” I am sad to say that outside of the gym I still spend most of my time on my butt, either in front of a computer screen, an easel, or even the teevee. That’s kinda like taking my body from “off” to “sixty” (in the cold) instead of allowing it to rumble around and warm up a little bit before punching the gas.

    This week I’ve started walking every day, for an hour or so, on the days I’m not in the gym. That takes care of the “outdoor” part as well, living in gorgeous Colorado. We’ll see how this plan goes. I suspect it will be just the thing I needed.

  28. The Great Outdoors is mandatory. Without my daily fresh air I go a little crazy.

  29. Just got myself a new puppy. Can’t wait til ahe gets a bit older and I can go on long walks with her. Will give me a reason not to skip on the walking

  30. I really enjoy my walks with the wife. The weather has been nuts in the South lately so we haven’t been able to go on them as often as we’d like.

    The weather has been beautiful lately though, so we are definitely getting back into the routine.

    When I’m out in the sun for a little bit every day I just feel better. Imagine that.

  31. Now that it is FINALLY getting warmer in Grand Rapids, MI a 45 minute walk 3 times a week sounds exhilarating!

    Playing outside? Sure, now its warm! Round of golf anyone? 3 Hour hike? Oh, thats play and exercise!

    I need to move to Cali so I can do this stuff year round…

  32. We live in Oregon and try to go for a walk almost every day… even in the rain. 🙂 There is no wrong weather… just wrong clothing.

    Grok on!

  33. Walking and being outdoors is not a problem for me I am a letter carrier on a walking route 5 hours 5 days a week are spent walking out of doors.What I can’t seem to do is play I haven’t played in years.The excuse is a lack of free time but truthfully I avoid it.I don’t really know how to play I guess.

    1. I guess you just haven’t yet found a game or activity that grabs you. There’s gotta be one out there! 🙂

  34. High energy dog. I’m outside walking her 45 minutes twice a day. I average about ten to twelve of those walks a week, and we fit in our sprinting and lifting as we go. My whole exercise program is built around those walks.

  35. Yeah like Ute says, that’s the Oregon slogan…there’s no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing! I was having 2nd thoughts about riding my mountain bike up a local hill yesterday afternoon though, as it was a chilly ride down. Worth it though. Even though it meant I got behind on chores. I do tend to tell myself the fun outdoors is for when the work is done. Too Puritan! Then again, stuff has to get done.

  36. Go for a 20 minute walk/slow jog outside at lunchtime every day now. It is my favorite part of the day, hands down and makes the rest of the day go by like a breeze. I can’t even imagine my work day without this daily activity–like hitting the reset button. Makes a bad day good and a good day even better!

  37. “So why do we treat them like they’re optional?”

    Maybe because it seems too easy? People are less likely to skip something like a workout because we equate a large amount of effort with a large reward.. so it seems okay to skip on the easy stuff, which appears less likely to be beneficial anyways.. on the contrary, maybe walking/playing/being outdoors is the low-hanging fruit that we should be going after first..

  38. I count myself lucky. I get to spend more time out than in. Well, it’s good when the weather is tolerable… Casual two hour ride (latte stop half-way) today.

    forty years ago I was always kj. always liked that.

  39. A couple of years ago I started having chest pain and ended up with a stent, and as part of therapy they had me working out in a gym. Then a year ago I had to get another stent, and I finally switched my workout to walking and sprinting outdoors. I walk 3-4 time a week at the beach, and include scrambling up a 20 foot high rock when the rock is not too wet and slippery, and I practice balancing on narrow logs along the beach. I very rarely see the gym anymore, though I do add some light weight training and calisthenics indoors once or twice a week. Hmm, maybe I can start picking up and lifting or throwing the logs at the beach for more variety of workout (something I haven’t thought of before). It rains a lot here, but it usually takes a combination of freezing cold, rain, and high winds to stop my outdoor workout. Then again, maybe it’s just not having the correct outdoor gear for the extreme conditions.

  40. Thanks for the butt kick with this blog. I sure needed it. I tend to suffer from the cold-wet-overcast day blues (blahs) and want to hibernate my life away. This morning I was up and dressed and out of doors for my hour walk before daylight arrived. I was up early enough to hear the “break of dawn” this morning and watch/hear the birds come to life with their early feeding and the beginnings of their spring courtship. I even met a new friend on my journey, a beagle-bassett mix, who decided to join me in my frigid (20 degree) morning adventure. I dearly loved it.

    Brrrr! I am ready for my nap now. I earned it.

  41. I have walked an hour (or shoveled-more) all but a handful of days here in Boston during one of the more brutal winters we’ve had in a while. You will be cold for maybe 10 minutes then the internal heat from the exercise should warm you up. I recommend a balaclava for the windy days. No excuses.

  42. I know Mark has poked a little fun at Disc Golf in a post or two, but I love it. It isn’t as physically intense or competitive as Ultimate, but it is still a fun way to spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours walking outdoors. It’s pretty inexpensive to buy gear($10-$12 for a disc) and free to play. It’s also a great way to meet people who also enjoy being outdoors.

    I also second the post from above about playing real golf and walking the course with your clubs. What a great way to spend an afternoon!

  43. @Riza

    I live in the same conditions(Sweden). I turn to x-country skiing once the snow arrives. Or ice skating. If you go to a hockey rink play can be involved as well. Just some ideas…

  44. I don’t know whether to think of this article as a nice bit of wisdom or to lose all faith in humanity because what it covers is not common sense.

    Even in the winter, I work out outside.

  45. Walking is my most favorite thing to do! There is a nice park near my home with ducks in the pond, lots of birds to listen to and watch… and lots of families out with their children!

    The “lifting heavy things” is going to be sort of a challenge for me because I have little or no disc material between L5 and S1. I am working on that a little bit at a time… and very carefully!

  46. Agree 100% that play is essential. As we move into the future and we get busier (a consequence of improved efficiency), taking a step back to play, relax, sleep, and otherwise recharge our batteries becomes increasingly vital. Even our breathing becomes stunted by stress. Combat it by taking 5 deep breaths in and out each hour. You’ll be amazed by the benefits of that simple exercise.

  47. I have a question:

    I USED to walk everywhere, around 4 miles a day. Then I got a bike and realised how much time I’d been wasting (living in Manchester, walking up and down a bus corridor isn’t all that fun in its own right). I cycle at least five miles a day and I do not walk anywhere anymore. Even if I’m getting a bus into town I’ll cycle the ten minutes walk to the bus stop (partly because I’m afraid of walking back to my house at night).

    I walked for about twenty minutes a few days ago and it felt very strange, clunky and odd, like I’d forgotten how to do it properly.

    Is this really bad? Or is cycling an OK substitute?

  48. I don’t believe any of the Primal Blueprint laws are optional. They are essential. Being clean of poisons and well-fed and well-rested and healthier and lighter – I dare you to hold me back. I’m finally so much more like the Mom I want to be. The person I want to be. Being outside, being active, with out without my kids, is preferable to any gym. I love free exercise and free Vitamin D. 😀

  49. I wish I could always work out outdoors. Unfortunately, I live in the Northeast and the winter has been particularly brutal to us this year.

    Any advice for us cold weather folk?

  50. I love my walks, my wife loves our walks and most of all “the Dude” (a boxer) loves his walks. With the lengthening days it is easier to walk after work. It seems to keep us all sane if we do it daily. Maybe that is why I love summer.

  51. I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy the outdoor. It’s cold with snow and ice here up in Montreal, but lately, I found a way to safely jog in almost any type of winter weather. My wife and I bought trail running shoes, 1/2 a size larger so we could fit 2 pairs of socks inside. Also, added #8×1/2″ sheet metal screws under the shoes (15 per shoe) to get incredible traction. Look up “screwshoes” and you’ll see what I mean. Also, if you have a dog that likes to play outside and run, look into cani-cross gear. If there’s too much snow, just hit the trails with the snowshoes instead. Dark? The new hi-power LED headlamps work great. Cheers.

  52. The emphasis on play, long walks and outdoor workouts are what attracted me to the Primal Blueprint in the first place.
    I’ve lost weight cutting carbs (the Drs Eades’ plan) but didn’t go into maintenance correctly. (I treated it as a fix to apply and forget about.) I had already started to fix my diet and started to think about the best shape I’ve been in before reading your blog.
    Of course, I was fit as a high school athlete, but in my adult years I always lost weight and felt much better when I worked in construction or factories. These were short term jobs. Summer during graduate school or short term until I found another ‘easy’ job.
    Slow, but steady work resulted in weight loss and all-around better health. The construction jobs were outdoors and made me feel better than indoor work, so I had already decided to try to make something similar the basis of reclaiming my health and fitness when I stumbled across the Daily Apple.
    I guess the quick answer to your question is: No. I don’t treat them as optional. I treat them as foundations.

  53. If I don’t get my tree time, I get unreasonably grumpy. Even knowing this, somehow I still forget. Just last night I remembered again, realizing that my only outside activities the last few weeks have been feeding the chickens and driving to run errands! Umm, cabin fever?

    My new snowshoes suck – time to borrow my friend’s old ones again until I can get some better ones. And I’m still dreaming of cross-country skis to use on local snowmobile trails (not many machines weekdays). My niece is also pestering me to take her downhill skiing, always a great quad/leg workout!

  54. I am competitive strength athlete and sometimes my peers laugh at me when I mention the importance of walking. But it’s true, walking energizes me and works the kinks out from heavy lifting.

  55. I read about a study once that showed that strength training under UV light improved power output, compared to strength training with no UV ligth.

  56. Very timely post for me! I’d been getting a bit too much into the “lift heavy weights” bit and not getting outdoors — miserable Scottish winter putting me off. But I wasn’t feeling anywhere near as good as when I was doing lots of walking and cycling while not letting my heartrate drift too high. So today I got out on the bike for two hours on an empty stomach, and now I feel fantastic! Just out of curiosity I picked up the dumbbells at the end of the ride — and did a PR for the overhead press! Going to be making walking & cycling outdoors exercise priority number one now. Thanks Mark!

  57. Mark, you definitely rock! Your blog manages to give good info and this time, too, i was not disappointed. Well, I believe that not matter how busy one remains, one can always take up some type of physical activities. Walk you way to office, climb the stairs, shop for the groceries-in short, do anything that fits into your schedule.

  58. I wonder how big an improvement it would be for my 13 year old to leave the “classroom” and be taught outside. Was thinking of a combination of backpacking and homeschooling would be such an improvement for him – I feel he is being stiffled 8 hours a day in school… Anybody know anything about that? Diane