a day is a very modern one. Unfortunately,
so is the worldwide epidemic of obesity.
The ancient Greeks practiced intermittent
fasting (sometimes referred to as an “
apostles’ fast”) as a way to purge impurities
from the body and the spirit and to normalize metabolic functions. Today, many progressive thinkers are doing this too,
including Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss,
as well of a slew of celebrities, like Beyonce
and Hugh Jackman.
During the grueling ;;;-mile footrace
from Athens to Sparta, known as the
Spartathlon, I ran the last ;; miles consuming only water. Nausea and exhaustion
prevented me from eating. It isn’t ideal, but
it can be done.
The ancient Greek diet was largely plant-based, consisting of horta (leafy greens),
olives, nuts, seeds, olive oil, lean meats and
fish. There’s a reason the Mediterranean
diet is still popular after ;,;;; years.
Get lost once in a while. On purpose.
Many people think only in terms of training
for a stated purpose, such as getting in
bathing-suit shape for the summer. While
there’s nothing wrong with training for a
goal, it can seem tedious at points and lead
The ancient Greek hemerodromoi (
daylong runners) would sometimes venture
out for long runs with no stated purpose
other than the pure enjoyment of running.
The Greeks advocated exercise as a state of
play. Aristotle even taught his daily lessons
while walking around Athens. His pupils
became known as the Peripatetics
In researching my book The
for modern health
BY DEAN KARNAZES
WHEN I SET OUT to re-enact the
ancient Greek Pheidippides’ historic
;;;-mile run from Athens to
Sparta—one of the greatest physical
accomplishments in history—I
learned that our forebears maintained certain mindsets and ideals
that resulted in healthy, balanced
lives. Although these practices date
back millennia, if you look closely at the
main values that drove people like the
ancient Greeks you’ll discover that many
of their daily principles are still relevant.
You can apply many of these lessons to
your life for greater fitness and health.
Exercise. Not daily; constantly. The
ancient Greeks considered activity and
exercise indispensible in living a full life.
The modern word “gym” is derived from
the Greek word gymnasia. Those who frequented the gym spent their time running,
jumping, throwing and wrestling, while
professors and scholars taught students
everything from philosophy to trade practices and economics.
Many citizens spent their entire day in
the gym, and often businesses were located
nearby so tradespeople could readily access
both. The modern takeaway is not to compartmentalize your workouts as separate
and distinct activities from the rest of your
life. View yourself through the lens of an
athlete, and conduct all your activities in
accordance. If that means a lunchtime run
or walk and a quick sink bath before heading back to the desk, so be it (and make sure
that’s a standing desk, of course).
Don’t eat sometimes. And when
you do, eat mostly plants. The
idea of eating three square meals
© SYDA PRODUCTIONS / SHUTTERSTOCK
Dean Karnazes stands next to a herm in the
Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. The ;rst
modern Olympic Games were revived in the
ancient stadium in 1896.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 42
FOR YOUR HEALTH