Our digestive systems evolved over millions of years, and our genes have also learned to respond to certain physical demands we've been placing on them throughout humans' history. Mark Sisson, author of ‘The Primal Blueprint’ a book and author I highly recommend, believes in what he calls a primal exercise pyramid. It is as follows: Lift heavy things once in a while (roughly twice a week, as little as 10 to 30 min each session is possible), Sprint (all out effort) once a week(less than 5 minutes actual full blown sprinting), and move frequently at a slow pace, 2 to 5 hours total per week.
(Graphic from the 'Primal Blueprint' by Mark Sisson, I highly recommend this book!)
This is based on what humans have been doing for hundreds of thousands of years. As hunter gatherers we spent a good amount of time moving at a slow pace; walking on hunts, walking to gather supplies or scout, than walking back to home camp. Every once in awhile we needed an all out sprint, to hunt, or to survive being hunted! We would also carry carcasses back to camp, or firewood and other supplies, or possibly move heavy rocks and wood to build shelter. Each time we lift a heavy load, our muscle fibers tear slightly, our genes than signal the body to repair them, making them slightly larger, anticipating this load (or larger) for next time. Each time we sprint, our body repairs the muscles and makes them more efficient, knowing we might need to run FASTER next time. As far as moving frequently at a slow pace, there are a myriad of health benefits, the biggest benefit being in keeping our body limber and keeping our metabolism up.
For longevity, I would recommend lifting weights/strength train two to three times per week, sprinting once a week, and moving at a moderate pace (walking, jogging, cycling, etc.) 2 to 5 hours per week, everyday basically. Even a 15 minute walk everyday can do wonders for our metabolism. One does not have to lift weights to strengthen muscles. There are unlimited body weight exercise options one can do to tear those muscle fibers. I will also always suggest yoga for over-all longevity. There are just too many mind and body benefits of yoga to ignore from reducing stress, helping focus, improved circulation, building muscle, flexibility, etc. (a google search of "health benefits of yoga" yields over two and half million results).
This exercise program is not the be all, end all, by any means. The body and mind thrive on change. We need to follow patterns to get certain results, but soon our bodies will get used to these patterns and they will need to be tweaked.
Brendan Brasier, vegan triathlete and author of 'Thrive Fitness' studied multiple professional and amateur athletes' routines. The biggest difference he found was not the actual workouts, but the rest in-between. The professional athletes knew the importance of proper rest between workouts. What's just as important as the actual exercise is the time off. This is when the body is repairing and strengthening those muscles, don’t take this as an excuse to sit on your couch alll day on your days off! I encourage walking and light activity every day.
Above all else, I will always preach awareness. If you are feeling really sore and not up for your day of lifting or yoga, THAT'S OKAY! Don't lift or do yoga that day, listen to your body and if it needs more time to heal, give it that time. I don't want you to ever feel bad about skipping a workout if your body is telling you it's not up for it, this is different from mentally simply not wanting to work out! I want you to gain a better awareness of your body and mind above all else!
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Primal Play | primalplay.org
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