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Actor Matthew McConaughey has been a Hollywood mainstay for nearly twenty years.  His movie credits include the coming of age “Dazed and Confused” (1993), “Contact” (1997), “The Wedding Planner” (2001), “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” (2003), and “Failure to Launch” (2006).  Best known as a romantic comedy leading man, McConaughey has proven his versatility in movies like “A Time to Kill” (1999), “Sahara” (2005) and “We Are Marshall” (2006).

Casual moviegoers and devoted fans alike have no doubt noticed Matthew McConaughey’s workout physique over the years, a testament to his full and active lifestyle.  Without doubt, the six-foot tall McConaughey, who turned forty in 2009 and is a father of two small children (with Brazilian-born model, Camila Alves), works extremely hard to stay in shape.

Arguably, he’s getting better with age.  Matthew was named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2005, and just recently claimed second place in Men’s Health magazine’s ‘2010 Best Summer Bodies’ list.  McConaughey was nosed out by Twilight heartthrob Kellan Lutz, but finished ahead of another Twilight superstar, Taylor Lautner.

Talk about over the hill…

A Hollywood “Active-ist’s” Guide to Healthy Living

In a feature interview with Mike Zimmerman of Men’s Health , McConaughey explains his unorthodox workout philosophy which is based on three (3) elements:

  • Extreme travel (e.g. Mexico, Peru, the Amazon jungle, Mali).  No generic fitness clubs for him!
  • Extreme workouts: Getting down and dirty, sweating to earn your next meal.  Exploring caves, high-altitude trail runs, improvised resistance training.
  • Rewarding yourself for a job well done!

He expands his ideas with four easy to remember tips:

  • “Tie your shoes.” Whether you’re starting a morning run or a relationship, McConaughey advises you to go all out from the start.  Tripping all over yourself and getting injured is just not in the cards.
  • “Say, ‘Buenos Dias!’” Adapt to local customs and new surroundings when outside your home country.  You’ll be surprised how far a hearty ‘Hello’ in the local language goes towards setting a great mood.  Matthew believes trail running is a great way to discover nature and keep you out of that stuffy hotel room!
  • “Let it Burn.” Embrace physical challenges like tough, “burnin’” hill climbs and the meditative aspects of exercise they bring out.  Adopt a “one step at a time” approach to get the job done.  It’s not a sprint and no calorie counters, heart rate monitors, and odometers will domesticate your workout.  Let your senses guide you towards your fitness goals.
  • Distance over Time: Matthew pushes himself to go as far as possible from his starting point, believing that the return trip will always be easier no matter how tired he is at the midpoint.  Following a “Conservative early, liberal late” strategy, he gives himself the latitude to discover new paths when returning home.

Four More Fitness Nuggets…

  • “Throw in a Monkey Wrench”: McConaughey is prone to hit the ground anytime during his runs to perform push-up sets.  It’s his way of blocking out “civilization” and maintaining absolute physical and mental focus.  Instead of restricting yourself to neatly packaged exercises, make things more fun and challenging (e.g. 200 pushups during an hour run), regardless of what others think.
  • “Add some Adrenaline!” Try something you never dreamt of in your past life.  For Matthew McConaughey, it’s the abandoned silver mine in Real de Catorce, Mexico that pushes his limits.  For you, it may be running a local half-marathon, playing a pickup basketball game with the local teens, or a triathlon (N.B. Matthew did one in 2008!).  Tapping into your inner unknown may release energy and skills you never realized you had.
  • “Master the Art of Running Downhill.” After the tough uphill climb, enjoy the “sprint” back down to your starting point.  Make an effort; embrace the thrill of using gravity to speed up, kick up some dust, and avoid obstacles that risk turning your workout outside in!
  • Use what’s Around: Get in touch with nature by using rocks, sticks etc. to improvise a full-body workout (i.e. upper body, lower-body, core, flexibility) after your run.  McConaughey is a big advocate of dancing, i.e. “the original workout” before commercial gyms took hold in the big cities.  Just think – an excuse to start sweating with “hot” partners who wouldn’t object to your efforts!  As an alternative, he suggests twenty-minute shadowboxing sessions for simply body maintenance.

Bonus Advice: Remember why you do all This!

The end game for actors like McConaughey and everyone else should be to enjoy life to the fullest.  A healthy lifestyle should include the finer things in life, because you earned and deserve it!  In fact, most folks who exercise regularly fail to properly reward themselves – food, drink, or otherwise – which really is a shame:

“Work hard, play hard. Just keep livin’. It’s another thing that’s easy to forget–we work so hard doing things to live longer that we forget to live at all.”   – Matthew McConaughey

Not everyone has the means to visit exotic places for body and mind exploration the way Matthew McConaughey does.  Knowing how fortunate he has been in life, the Hollywood actor gives back through his j.k. livin foundation, “dedicated to helping teenage kids lead active lives and make healthy choices to become great men and women.”

Mike Zimmerman, “Matthew McConaughey’s Workout”. www.menshealth.comhttp://www.menshealth.com/celebrity-fitness/matthew-mcconaughey-workout, 27 July 10.

Chris Cannon
Chris Cannon

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