Primal fitness offer tips that help you get in shape for 2011

For your New Year's fitness resolution, why not turn to something new, but at the same time, very old?  A new trend, called Primal fitness, involves practicing activities that our early hunter-gatherer ancestors would have experienced in the wild - movements such as walking, running, balancing, climbing, lifting, carrying, throwing and catching. Primal fitness experts at StrengthBox recommend kick-starting 2011 with activities that focus on natural movement and play, rather than traditional gym-based routines.

Over 48% of Canadians are now classified as either overweight or obese, according to recent statistics from the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI). This epidemic is particularly acute during the holidays, largely related to an environment that promotes excessive food intake and discourages physical activity.

Greg Carver, a trainer at StrengthBox, believes primal fitness is the solution, as it is fun, practical, non-specialized, and can be scaled for any ability. "Replacing repetitive-motion cardio and traditional isolation exercises with playful, more complex movements relieves stress and reduces cortisol levels - culprits that contribute to weight gain and stubborn abdominal fat. And thinking of exercise as recreation instead of a routine chore helps people stick to their program."

"Working out shouldn't feel like drudgery", says Carver. "Rather, it should feel like play. Children have playgrounds to explore and practice their physical capabilities, but adults often end up trapped in some type of mechanical gym-based routine. We need to learn how to move freely again."

Here are some tips that will help you get in shape for 2011 - the primal way:

  1. Get outside and go for a long walk. Overly warm houses and holiday meals encourage sedentary behaviour, and getting outdoors will get your blood flowing and raise your endorphin levels.
  2. Find a community pool and try swimming. Lessons are available for adults, and swimming is a natural activity that can be practiced at any age.
  3. Run short distances, but go fast. Try sprinting for 100 meters or more.
  4. Practice primal activities and skills such as balancing, climbing, jumping, throwing and catching. You don't need to have access to a climbing gym or be a track star. Need some inspiration? Watch how children play on a playground.
  5. Lift heavy objects. Traditional weightlifting is beneficial, as long as you focus on compound lifts that involve the whole body. But you can also get creative and practice lifting and carrying odd objects - from rocks and logs to sandbags or even heavy water bottles.
  6. Take up Martial Arts. Learning complex movement patterns increases cognitive activity in the brain, and self-defense has obvious practical benefits.
  7. Engage in some youth-oriented activities and fun. Build a snowman or snow-fort, play some hockey or even have a game of tag. Laughter releases endorphins in the brain and reduces stress.

As with any skill, proper instruction and training can be an important part of the learning process. StrengthBox recommends scaling your activities according to your abilities and seeking professional help where needed.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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