Exercise

Exercise (or, more properly physical activity) is one of the four interdependent planks of the Evfit perspective, the other three being nutrition, psychology (broadly defined) and the environment. Exercise is a specific activity that stimulates a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance fitness and health and does not undermine the latter in the process of enhancing the former. [1]

In Western societies in the early 21st century, younger people seem more inclined than their elders to make an effort to exercise for the benefit of their appearance (or maybe their health) than they are to make a comparable effort to maintain a beneficial nutrition. At the extreme, they indulge more readily in dietary excesses (alcohol, drugs, anorexia, bulimia, detox) than in physique neglect and abuse.

Older people, in contrast, find undertaking an effective level of physical activity increasingly unattractive, even repelling. At the same time, they become more interested in nutrition.

The popular media conspire in supporting these two trends, often motivated by financial incentives.  Manufacturers of generic brands (Nike, Fila, Adidas), for example, have created a link - albeit largely spurious - between purchase of their products and sport, glamour and youthfulness. They also perpetuate the myth that sport is the same as fitness, whereas sport is primarily an entertainment medium dominated by freaks. One of the saddest sights is to behold a very unfit person waddling along in clothing and shoes associated with levels and types of physical activity totally foreign to the wearer.

A different set of manufacturers create the similarly spurious links around nutrition/pharmaceuticals, low fat foods, esoteric supplements, diet publications, weight loss companies with the underlying message that exercise is unattractive, but the benefits of exercise can be had quickly and easily by eating and drinking this way and that.

Both exercise and diet fit easily into the individualistic, Western self-improvement culture that emanates from the USA.

Exercise and Evfit

Evfit dismisses the approach to exercise that has been developed to meet the consumer culture. The fittest population this planet has ever seen were the "early modern people" of the Upper Palaeolithic, also known as Cro Magnons (after the rockshelter site in France's Dordogne where their skeletons and artefacts were found in 1868).  If skull capacity is a reliable indicator the Cro Magnons were also more intelligent than we are today. They were also taller. The consumer culture is the culture of the quick fix and painless remedy. If you see the term "gentle exercise", be on your guard! Cro Magnons had no need for gentle exercise!

I have answered questions from a site visitor here.

Training to failure

See my page on training to failure. And, to complement that, my take on gentle exercise and a balanced diet.

Books on exercise

Probably the best book which deals with exercise in a way that also looks at mental attitudes to activity is Frank Forencich's Play as if Your Life Depends on it. There is no point in pretending you are doing Palaeo exercises if you stick to a routine, always keep careful notes and exercise even though you hate it. Frank makes exercise real fun - not the forced grin of the personal trainers at your local "chrome-and-fern' gym, but the deep feeling of jubilation that is the Palaeo way.

Notes

1. Doug McGuff and John Little, Body by Science (p3). These authors go on to say "Thousands of activities are popularly thought of as exercise, ranging from walking and running to calisthenics, weight training and yoga. However, many of these activities do not qualify as exercise by our definition, either because they are inefficient at stimulating the mechanical and metabolic adaptations necessary to benefit the fitness (and, to a large extent, the health) of our bodies or because their continued performance results in an undermining of bodily health. It is for this latter reason that we must exclude activities such as jogging and [distance] running from being considered as exercise ..." back to text

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Page last revised 10 April 2010