When did we lose the will to run?

Posted in Active Bites |
Key Facts: 
  • The neurotransmitter dopamine motivates us to go beyond our immediate environment.
  • Dopamine increases our capacity for stamina and endurance.
  • Bad eating habits mean that we are producing it less and less.

Perhaps the best place to start answering this is by looking at when we started running.  Six to eight million years ago our human ancestral line involved the hominoid family, diversified from apes.  Apes moved to the water on the savannah interface.  Initially this didn’t work well as they can’t dive and were unable to fish.  This eventually led to crucial adaptations such as hair loss and increased fat under the skin, all to enable us to fish.  More fish in the diet meant more protein, more energy and therefore a much bigger brain.  Eventually our ancestors stood up and so much more became possible on two legs.

We know early humans were endurance animals.  From observations of contemporary hunter-gatherer populations, our ancestors could cover distances of up to 80 kilometres daily if necessary!  Believe it or not, we are still programmed to be able to do this because we still have Stone Age genes.  In fact, in the Amazon jungle, populations will still walk this distance to visit friends and then go all the way back again.    We 'civilised city dwellers' just need to train ourselves mentally and physically to accept that we can, and then do it — although maybe 80km and back in a day would be rather too much to comprehend for us modern types. And finding the time would be quite a challenge too no doubt!
  Although high intensity interval training does provides an option for time-poor modern dwellers.

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