Six fitness lessons from 'Star Wars'

Workout inspiration from a galaxy far, far away.

We’d argue the whole Star Wars series not only features some of the greatest films of all time, but is also a major source of fitness inspiration. And with Star Wars: The Force Awakens set to arrive in movie theaters Friday, we're sure there will be more Jedi fitness tricks passed down. So here are the top six we’ve gleaned through the years.

Train even when the circumstances aren’t ideal.
Anyone can go out for a run on a sunny, 70-degree day. Just like anyone can hone their light saber skills with the help of a Marksman-H Combat Remote aboard the artificial gravity generator–assisted Millennium Falcon, right? But we all know Luke didn’t kick into high gear until he was with Yoda, training in the swamps of Dagobah, surrounded by creepy creatures and taunted by a trainer with questionable grammar. Cycling class with the sniffles doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

Integrate your workout into your everyday life.
It’s impossible to know when work is going to get in the way of staying fit. But if there’s anyone who knows how to overlap exercise and various workaday duties, it’s Chewbacca, who kept his wookie figure by, say, carrying around C3PO in a backpack while shooting storm troopers. You do what you can.

Know when to rest and recover.

One of the hardest things about staying healthy is knowing when to ease off the pedal and let your body recover from a particularly grueling workout. That’s why after dodging countless star destroyers and TIE fighters, helping Luke annihilate the Death Star, ducking Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett, stomping around the ice planet of Hoth and sleeping in the guts of a woolly Taunton, Han Solo took a respite in carbonite, the ultimate ice bath. Without a recovery plan like that, there’s no way he’d still be around 30 years later to kick ass in the new movie.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Sure The Phantom Menace was an abomination, but as the hilarious Jar Jar Binks taught us…just kidding he was the worst.

Switch up your workouts to stay sharp and athletic.
It’s easy to fall into a rut, and do the same type of workout day after day. Maybe it’s the runner who just logs mile after mile without doing any strength training, or the weight room regular who’s done so many curls and so few stretches that his arms are permanent J’s. Or, you could go the route of Princess Leia, the original Alderaan Ninja Warrior. She’s swung across the missing bridge on the Death Star, fought off countless storm troopers and infiltrated Jabba the Hutt’s lair as a convincing bounty hunter. It ended up saving her life, as she was strong and quick enough to leap over and strangle Jabba the Hutt with a chain, while he sat there like a pile of Bantha Poodoo.

It’s never too late to turn things around.
It’s easy, particularly around the holidays, to give in and eat a second piece of pie. Sometimes those slip-ups or IOUs can turn into bad habits, or a completely different lifestyle. If you don’t see where we’re going with this, that’s essentially the entire animating metaphor of the Star Wars movies, the seduction of the Dark Side that Luke rejected and Anakin (Darth Vader) embraced. But as Luke’s dad taught us in Return of the Jedi, your past bad decisions don’t have to define you. It’s still possible to change course and head back toward the light. Sure, Darth Vader was a half-burned, blue-skinned cyborg who died immediately after abandoning the dark side, but his ghost still looked pretty good.