We Got Up, So We Need To Keep Getting Down!

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We are our own worst enemy at times.  Walking on all fours wasn’t good enough. We had to get up on two legs to get a higher view of available resources. 

It created a shift both in how we move (and use our brains to control movement) and how we process information we take in through our senses. 

Movement helped get us the big, fancy, smarty-pants human brains we have now with our big, unique prefrontal cortex.  But then we stopped.

We’ve all seen the now iconic satirical graphic above of the “evolution of man” where we get upright then back down again as we sit and hunch over electronic devices. 

The full implication of these massive shifts and how – and how often – we move cannot be captured fully even by this poignant imagery.

Our ancestors split from other primates by going from moving on all four extremities to walking upright on their hind legs, and going from primarily sitting around eating fruit to a hunter-gatherer life of actively walking, running, jumping, and chasing animals and searching for edible plants and suitable shelter materials over many miles a day.

As hard as this is physically, it is also mentally taxing as we needed to now do the following:
• balance our bodies on two limbs instead of four
• build stamina to chase and catch animals
• recognize and memorize new surroundings and categorize their usefulness or threat level
• use our eyes and ears to find elusive animals
• collaborate with others to find and capture wild animals
• develop tools and hunting strategies to outsmart faster-moving prey

Then we developed agriculture about 10,000 years ago. The result is less physical energy expenditure to find enough food to survive. Now we used our smarts to figure out ways to feed large communities, where every member did not need to spend all of his or her time looking for food.

Now we think of farming as physically too difficult.  We sit and ride everywhere in cars, trains, or buses instead of walking. We have abundant food available while barely exerting ourselves to get it and we often can’t even stand the idea of watching a foreign film because it is “too much work” mentally to read the subtitles while watching a movie.

We got up on two legs, but we are not going back to our hunter-gatherer ways. So in order to be healthy, we need to get down.  Dance, run, play, get moving in fun and challenging ways that you enjoy.  Race kayaks, join a recreational sports league, play with your pets or kids.  The fun keeps you coming back, and the challenge part is what creates physical change and enhances physical capacity.  It’s fun + intensity…Funtensity.

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