The Paleo Rhythm: An Exercise Diet for Every Age

The Paleo Rhythm: An Exercise Diet for Every Age

Improve your well-being with these physical activity guidelines for all ages and health conditions.

By the time our ancestors saw the end of the Pleistocene era about 11,700 years ago, they’d embraced what some researchers call the Paleo Rhythm of life . . . one that combined intense bouts of activity lasting a few days, followed by a more restful couple of days in which it would be common to walk six or more miles to socialize.

That Paleo Rhythm, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its review of the history of physical activity, comes close to the current recommendations for physical activity that combine strength training and aerobics, banishing sedentary habits.

Fast forward: By 200 BCE to 200 AD, the Yoga Sutras were established in India and around 200 BCE in China Tai Chi, an exercise system that teaches graceful movements, was developed. Both approaches stressed physical fitness as a tool for preventing disease and decrepitude.

Seems it’s taken us a long time to relearn what many earlier cultures have known.

New physical activity guidelines for Americans
If you want to get some Paleo Rhythm in your life . . . check out the new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans put out by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

For the first time they offer guidance for preschoolers ages three to five. And they use scientific discoveries made since the first guidelines were established 10 years ago to make it clear that exercise not only improves heart health and longevity, but it also benefits brain health, helps defend you from cancers, prevents falls, improves sleep and mood, and helps improve quality of life for folks with chronic health conditions or disabilities.

Preschool-aged children (3 through 5) should be active all day long, and caregivers should encourage active play (gets caregivers moving too!).

Children and adolescents up to age 17 should do 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily—mostly aerobics, and make ’em vigorous at least three times a week. Muscle-strengthening exercises (resistance training and weightlifting) as well as bone-strengthening exercises (jumping jacks, running, brisk walking and weightlifting exercises) should be part of that 60 minutes at least three times a week.

Adults of all ages should move more and sit less. Substantial benefits come from a minimum of 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobics, or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobics—or a combo. And more is better! Also: do muscle-strengthening activities (resistance training and weightlifting) using all major muscle groups two-plus days a week.

Older adults should aim for the above, plus . . . add balance-training activities. Tai Chi is good! If you cannot do that because of chronic conditions, be as physically active as you can.

During pregnancy and postpartum, women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. If you were physically active before becoming pregnant, chances are you can continue these activities during pregnancy and the postpartum period. But, consult your healthcare provider before you get started.

Adults with chronic health conditions and adults with disabilities can follow the basic adult guidelines for aerobics and muscle-building, if you’re able. If you can’t, make sure to get regular physical activity according to your ability.

Whatever your age (or your RealAge) or physical condition, getting your Paleo Rhythm going

  • Lowers risk of all-cause mortality
  • Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, stroke, arrhythmias and hypertension, and lowers risk of death from cardiovascular disease if you have it
  • Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lowers risk of unhealthy blood lipid levels
  • Lowers risk of cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung and stomach
  • Improves cognition and reduces risk of dementia
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Improves sleep
  • Slows or reduces weight gain; helps with weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake; and prevents weight regain
  • Improves bone and joint health

So, have fun, get moving and launch yourself into a very healthy, happy new year!

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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