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Base Level Fitness – setting a standard

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How Fit Should I Be?

Base level fitness is a way of describing a minimal requirement level of fitness for an individual. There aren’t really any official standards of what this should be such as resting heart rate level, breathing rate or strength standards, but perhaps there should be. In a world where obesity is more prevalent, and sitting for a living is status quo, surely we should have some sort of base level fitness parameters to keep us on the straight and narrow?

Very few of us grew up in an intensely physically demanding world like that of our ancestors. Our ancestors had to work for their survival using their hands, feet, arms, and all requisite muscles and energy systems to obtain food, shelter, and security. In those days, physical fitness was an absolute necessity for survival. Walking, foraging, crawling, twisting, climbing, squatting, throwing and carrying were the basic movements that helped shape human evolution for millions of years. Being unable to sprint or climb meant going hungry or getting eaten, and the end of the line for your genes.

base level fitness

A typical work day for the hunting man was perhaps stalking a wild animal for an hour or two, giving chase through the brush, eventually thrusting with a spear, butchering it, and finally hauling it back home slung over his back. In fitness terms, the hunt and kill expedition translates to: some light jogging, a bit of trail running with some short sprinting, perhaps a few lunge-thrusts, some sledge-hammers, a dead-lift and a fireman’s carry. What a fantastic whole body workout!

The world is a little different today, and we need not be so handy with a spear or quick on our feet, to catch our dinner. So just how fit should you be? In his book, “Endurance”, Earle Liederman (ex-strongman athlete) writes:

“Every man should be able to save his own life. He should be able to swim far enough, run fast and long enough to save his life in case of emergency and necessity. He also should be able to chin himself a reasonable number of times, as well as to dip a number of times, and he should be able to jump a reasonable height and distance.”

In practical terms, this could be:

  • 1 kilometer swim
  • 100m sprint at full speed
  • ability to jump over waist-high objects
  • 10 chin-ups
  • 10 dips

Any reasonably fit person should be able to perform the above tasks. Chin-ups and dips are the more challenging exercises but with a kick of adrenalin (as in a life-threatening event), these will be more manageable. At the very least, you should be fit and flexible enough to perform regular daily activities: carrying groceries up two flights of stairs, run to catch the bus, or lug bags through the airport without hurting your shoulders.

“Move slowly often” to achieve a good base level fitness

Roughly five hours per week of low-level aerobic activity will be of great benefit to your general health. This might be in the form of walking, gardening, cycling, swimming or hiking, etcetera. These basic activities will allow you to maintain normal weight and metabolic balance. It also makes more strenuous workouts possible by toning all the muscles, including your core strength, joints and connective tissue needed for optimal strength training and high intensity anaerobic activity).

Low level aerobic exercise engages your energy systems and incrementally improves their functioning and efficiency. And while it does all that, it also physiologically and hormonally counters the effects of stress.

Moving slowly often, is a great phrase to keep in the back of your mind each day. Thereafter, try to fit in some sort of strenuous activity at least once a week, lift some weights, help a friend move house, run uphill, or play some touch footy. It doesn’t have to be a chore, make it fun for yourself.

This information has been adapted from Mark Sisson’s eBook, “Primal Blueprint Fitness”.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The
information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and
other material contained in this discussion are for informational
purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad
consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not
intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis
or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other
qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding
a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health
care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay
in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

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