What Is Organic Exercise?

Female Rock Climber

Organic exercise has emerged as a viable option for those who are looking to maximize the benefits achieved through physical activity. This type of exercise is a good fit for people looking to train functionally.

The Basics

According to a 2011 article titled "Exercise like a hunter-gatherer: a prescription for organic physical fitness," organic exercise is defined as exercise that is similar to the type of physical activity performed by ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors. Organic exercise is generally performed in natural, outdoor settings, and is physically demanding in nature.


Organic exercise is designed to mimic the exercise performed by ancient humans and therefore requires very little ancillary equipment. According to "Organic Fitness: Physical activity consistent with our Hunter-Gatherer Heritage," organic exercise may include such activities as:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Tree or rock climbing
  • Construction
  • Digging
  • Butchering
  • Splitting wood

In addition to choosing the right types of organic exercise, performing it correctly is important for those who are thinking about incorporating this type of activity into their activity routine. In "Organic Fitness: Physical activity consistent with our Hunter-Gatherer Heritage," authors note that performing organic forms of exercise at intermittent, high-intensity rate can promote more weight loss and better glucose control than when done at a lower intensity.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Weighing both the pros and cons is important when it comes to starting an organic exercise routine.


When it comes to organic exercise, one of its most significant benefits is its limited reliance on equipment - in fact, it can be done nearly anywhere, any time. Going for a jog, walking, or even hiking do not require tools, weights, or other products, and therefore, is fairly inexpensive.

Since the types of activity emphasized in organic exercise programs are similar to those performed as part of daily life, they do not require extensive athleticism or prolonged amounts of practice to obtain proficiency. Most adults already know how to walk, hike, and dig, for example, and therefore the type of activity recommended in an organic workout routine can be performed by beginning or advanced exercisers alike with relative ease.


While the type of exercise recommended in an organic workout may be easy enough to perform, the intensity at which it is recommended can be too much for some individuals. In fact, one of the most significant drawbacks to organic exercise is the emphasis on high-intensity workouts.

Individuals who are new to exercise or suffer from a chronic health condition that limits their physical ability may find it difficult to perform exercise that is especially strenuous. Beginning exercisers or those with a low tolerance may be so exhausted after a few days of this type of exercise that they may quit the program.

Exercise Like a Caveman

While organic exercise may be a good choice for some, it is not right for all adults. Individuals who are new to exercise may want to talk with their healthcare provider before incorporating this type of activity. In some cases, it may be better to start off with a more traditional workout and slowly transition to organic exercise than starting with this regimen right off the bat.

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What Is Organic Exercise?