Since most of us already own a gym membership, why don’t we use the fitness equipment for more than just intense exercise? Winter is the perfect time to start. As residents of Northern cities like Chicago and Minneapolis know, there isn’t much walking to do when two feet of snow is piled up on the sidewalks. The answer is to take the time to take it slow. Do that and you’ll find improvements in cardiovascular fitness, increased leg and torso strength, and decreased stress.
The recent trend of Paleo diets, including the Primal Blueprint and Caveman include long walks or similarly slow –paced activity for an extensive period of time as one of the ways to increase fitness levels and burn fat. The logic is that the Paleolithic man, our genetic predecessor, was forced to walk in search of fresh food. These trudges could take several hours, or even days. By mimicking what we can of his lifestyle – in this case maintaining constant motion – we can increase blood flow, while actively relaxing and toning our muscles.
Cardiovascular health is the most important aspect of any fitness plans, and low-stress workouts are an excellent way to maintain a healthy heart (the #1 killer of middle aged men and women). By heading to the gym and blocking out 2-3 hours of the day for walking or using an elliptical trainer the body is able to recover from the stress of the day, while increasing fitness and protecting the ticker. For the go-getter, multi-tasker there is also an opportunity to catch up on some reading .
No matter the pace, walking on the treadmill and riding the elliptical provide a workout. Your legs, under the strain of several miles will tighten up. Your core, used for balance, will find its way to firm up. Take the winter to explore your gym and find solutions on not only how to rev your heart up to 100 bpm, but also to instruct it how to actively relax and reduce the deadly amounts of stress.
For those who can’t just ride the elliptical or walk on the treadmill, you can also use a weight vest, to add some poundage to your workout. Think of yourself as a caveman having just picked wild vegetables, or hunted dinner for your family. But keep the weight low, these workouts are intended to maintain and tighten, not add bulk, stress, or injury.
If it’s cold outside than also take the time, usually 15-20 minutes to sit in a steam bath or sauna. This respite from the cold can act as a temporary boon to your sanity and may just keep you from throwing a shovel across your snowed-in driveway. Caveman never had the technology, take advantage of your place in history!
Obviously slow activity is only one part of a weight loss and fitness plan. The caveman diet tends toward low-carb and high fat meal plans which like Atkins increases the amount of energy your body mines from fat, and thus reduces excess fat. The real lesson is to know that whichever plan you follow, you need to stay creative if not, at times, counterintuitive with your methodology in order to reach weight and fitness goals.
Tim is a writer and freelance Primal Living consultant. For more information, or guides on how to experience a CavemanLiveit, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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