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If a Caveman Can…

June 5, 2016

Eve Brannon

Consider the generic, 21st century lifestyle – working long hours at a stressful desk job, while the end of the day is spent trying to recoup some down time with loved ones (often from the sofa). So what effect does this rather sedentary state have on our overall wellbeing and bodies?

In this modern age, perhaps it is worth looking back at the humble caveman when thinking about the body’s design and purpose and how we should move. If you consider the overall physical fitness of our primal hunter gatherer ancestors, they were strong, a healthy weight by today’s standards and did not suffer from degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis or cancers. Most people would argue that they had, on average, a shorter life span compared to today, which of course is true, but not for the health reasons you may imagine. There were higher infant mortality rates, deaths from birth and pregnancy and many deaths simply occurred from the overall stress of the living and climate conditions. None of these survival hazards were accompanied by the modern medicine or emergency care we have today. So comparatively the caveman lived a much healthier lifestyle. The human form is built to walk miles, run (be chased!), hunt animals, move and lift heavy objects, build shelter, swim through rivers and climb trees… Not simulating this sort of natural activity surely must have major health implications as the body’s muscles, skeleton, heart and lungs will not be getting used as they are built to.

The danger lies in the old adage that if ‘you don’t use it, you lose it’  – by being predominantly sedentary you may lose bone density over time. In not doing any sort of lifting exercises your muscles will not grow or stretch and underdeveloped muscles can cause muscle strain and injury. Furthermore, bones will be more susceptible to breaks on impact and in later life this can lead to osteoporosis. A lack of cardiovascular activity (using the heart and lungs) and rarely increasing your heart rate with exercise can mean running the risk of developing heart disease and/or cardiovascular illness. Through natural evolution, lifestyle and purpose has moved on and evolved. However, the body still requires similar physical stimulus to thrive.

So how to we get motivated to move our bodies when our survival doesn’t depend on it? Consider exercise or any form of physical movement, as an opportunity to activate what your body should do naturally and deliver what it needs to function efficiently, even if it’s just for a couple of hours a week. Find something that you enjoy, that gives you energy and that adds to your sense of wellbeing. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or a chore. Prevention is better than cure…. move and be well!

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