I was reading Paleo Magazine tonight and found a really cool article – actually a journal article from the Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. I am posting the article below because I thought it was interesting, making the point that all we really need to do is, not only eat like we did in primal times, but move like them as well for natural fitness. In the article it talks about a variety of ways to move -including short bursts of moderate to high intense activity and also weight training. Although there is also walking and less intense activity recommended, seems CrossFit is right on track with what naturally benefits the human body! Oh and that we should exercise outside barefoot.
EXERCISE LIKE A HUNTER-GATHERER: A PRESCRIPTION FOR ORGANIC PHYSICAL FITNESS. – O’Keefe, James et al. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 53 (2011) 471-479 doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2011.03.009
“A human being, when unchained from the highly variable and physically taxing daily chores that were required of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and instead relegated to an indoor overfed sedentary existence, becomes ridden with disease and debility. The rationale behind the effectiveness of daily cross-training is written in our genome.”
Human beings evolved in an environment in which daily physical activity and movement was necessary to like. Our ancestors survived for 84,000 generations as hunter-gatherers . Today, thanks in part to modern technology and industrial food production, physical activity levels have declined dramatically, and modern humans are suffering from chronic diseases as a result. Physical activity substantially and beneficially alters the expression of genes involved in numerous body functions including general fitness, glucose and lipid metabolism, blood pressure, mood, sleep quality and immunity. Thus, the path to enhanced health, the authors propose, is to replicate the physical activity patterns of our ancestors. “The types of exercise for which we are evolutionarily adapted include a variety of activities performed intermittently, at moderate intensities, for moderate durations.” Moreover, prolonged, excessive cardiovascular exercise (e.g., marathon, triathlons) is associated with injury to joints and muscles- including the heart muscle.
What, then, is the optimal exercise regimen for human health? Daily light-to-moderate activity, such as walking and carrying; walking and running over uneven surfaces, either barefoot or in simple shoes; interval training (bursts of moderate-to-high-intensity activity) once or twice a week, followed by a day of rest to support musculoskeletal recover; weight training, also once or twice a week; and other activities of movement and energy expenditure, including exercising one’s dog, dancing, and even sexual activity! The authors further recommend that exercise should be done in a natural environment (e.g., among trees) and/or with others (e.g., in a group or with a companion) whenever possible, as studies show that such settings confer additional emotional and mental health benefits. In essence, we must act as “very active outdoor generalists” to mimic the daily and weekly activities of hunter-gathers who walked and ran over uneven terrain hunting game, crouched under bushes while foraging, carried loads of food, water, and building materials, and accomplished these tasked outdoors, usually in a group. This would bring modern life in greater harmony with the genome we carry, and offer modern humans freedom from the disease and debility that so plague our sedentary society.