Solutions for Self-Reliance

Can You Use Paleo Fitness to Become More Resilient?


How do you stay fit?

It’s clear that staying fit is an investment in personal resilience.  It builds up strength, energy, and health that you might will need at a later date.

However, is there a resilient way to stay fit?   I think there is.

Right now, I’m fitter and happier than I’ve been in years.  For example, over the last month I’ve shed 15 pounds of winter weight while getting much stronger.

What’s my formula?

My approach doesn’t rely on a dedicated exercise regime.  However, in many respects it’s similar to what’s called Paleo fitness.

Paleo fitness is part of the popular Paleo diet.  It’s about trying to work out in a way that is similar to how hunters and gatherers kept fit.

The reason?  The Paleo rationale is that we get the best results from diet and exercise when we align it with what our bodies and minds are genetically programmed for.  So, since Human beings spent 99.9% of our collective history as hunters and gatherers, our methods of exercise should be similar to what they did for the best results.

What did hunters and gatherers do?  They:

  • Lifted and carried heavy weights.  Carrying game, water, and possessions (while migrating).
  • Goofed off for most of the day with lots of short movement breaks to do useful work.  To get water and to gather food.
  • Made an occasional sprint or short fast run.  To chase game or evade danger.

Here’s what I’m doing that is close to the Paleo regimen:

  • I carry heavy weights.  A shovel, a wheelbarrow and dirt are my primary weight training machines.   I’m currently using hugelkultur to build an irrigation free garden bed.
  • I move slowly.  Lots of walking and bending.   Picking and weeding.  ‘Harvesting’ my crop of rocks (a New England tradition).
  • Finally, my day of sedentary online work is broken up by lots of movement working on projects.  I take three breaks a day to do work on projects. Currently, I’m spending two to four hours a day outside working.

My only deficiency from the Paleo perspective is that I don’t sprint much, although I do get my heartbeat up for short bursts when I carry very heavy loads, particularly if they are uphill.

Wheelbarrow (PSF)

Anyway, I feel fantastic, and with each passing year I can see more and more improvement.

However, there is one MAJOR difference between what I’m doing and Paleo fitness.

The time I spend exercising isn’t only an investment in my body, it is an investment in building a resilient home.   My work out makes my home more productive.

Lastly, this resilient fitness program has more meaning than a simple Paleo or conventional approach.

How so?  Every time I complete a workout I get a sense of accomplishment.  I can see what I’ve built.   I finish it knowing that my family and community (the equivalent of a Paleo “tribe”) are more resilient than they were before I started.  It seems to me that meaningful physical exercise is tightly aligned with the Paleo philosophy.


Your happy and increasingly fit analyst,


John Robb


PS:  When did fitness go astray?  When I was a kid, fitness was a natural byproduct of work and play.  I didn’t engage in any specific workout routine.  It was just a natural byproduct of play (soccer/basketball/skiing), running around, my daily paper route, and getting drafted to work (toss hay bales, shovel poop, etc.) on the family farm.   So, what happened?  Somewhere along the line, fitness became an activity of its very own, a chore.  This returns the balance.

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