Evolution and Exercise

TAGS: evolution, Kyle Newell, exercise

Many people can't find the time (or so they say) to get their workouts in or even begin a program. For those of you who are fitness buffs and self-proclaimed meatheads, this might never affect you. Unfortunately, you're a small majority of the general population. Perhaps if we were able to explain to the general population that exercise and its benefits are a natural part of our biology, they will be more likely to listen. Just as we need to eat, drink, and sleep, we need to exercise.

I saw Martin Rooney speak at a seminar recently. He talked about how not enough people incorporate sprinting into their routines. You don’t need to be a competitive athlete to work this into your program. This got me thinking. So as I always try to do, I read a book that dealt with the topic. Sprinting is something natural that our ancestors had to do to either hunt or kill food to survive or escape from predators. When we sprint, we use every single muscle in our body in an explosive manner. We have to fight massive rotational forces around the spine. It's a great way to work the hip region through its entire range of motion. And no, a 45-minute "interval" workout on the elliptical isn't considered sprinting.

Exercise spikes a whole bunch of ‘good’ hormones in our brain that may be rooted in evolution. We've all heard the term ‘runners high,’ and if you've heard of that, you’re more than likely familiar with ‘endorphins.’ In particular, exercise raises levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, all of which make us feel good and can block pain. Some scientists believe that these came about because humans needed them during long hunts to block pain and keep them going. Because we no longer hunt for our food (most of us anyway), we need to find another way to produce them, and exercise is the answer.

We've always had to lift heavy things from the beginning of time in order to build things. Today, we have the option of deadlifting (or squatting, pressing, and benching). When we lift heavy things, we build stronger muscles and bones, and we get a nice increase in our production of HGH and testosterone. If we lift often and heavy, we will stay younger via more muscle and hormonal production. Only the strong survive, which is a nice mechanism of evolution. If we don’t use our bodies, they die. Inactivity is a sign of death. Not only will our bodies begin to fall apart, so will our minds (refer back to the benefits of exercise on the brain, which is arguably even more important than the benefits to the body).

There are a whole slew of things that I can put for diet and evolution, and I know some of it has already been done elsewhere. So I'll make it simple (I like simple)—our bodies are meant to be lean and muscular. If we can maintain or get into this state, we'll have higher energy levels and clearer thought processes. If you don’t believe me, get ready for a bodybuilding show and report back to me. However, there is a fine line between trying to get lean and getting so lean that performance and thought suffer. Eat protein and fat at your meals and a little bit of complex carbs and you'll be good to go. Our bodies have evolved not to be very efficient at handling huge insulin spikes (as would happen when eating tons of carbs).

This list could go on and on. However, the point of this article was to show that it is part of our DNA to be active and eat well. It speaks to the heart of every human being, and there is a reason that exercise feels so good once you get into a routine. The key is finding something you like to do.

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