Monday, June 10, 2013

An Evolutionary Advantage

Whether or not you believe in the evolution of the human body, it appears that some of our earlier pre-human relatives (now, I didn't say our ancestors) had skeletons perfectly designed for walking and running.

I got into a program on NPR, of course not at the beginning so I could recount for you all the names and titles, about the evolutionary advantage of our species' ability to walk and run.  From the standpoint of our skeletons AND certain parts of our brains, we are better designed than many other creatures for long distance walking and running, as well as sprinting when necessary.  You know, the fight or flight response.

Some of the testing discussed had to do with the release of  adrenaline in response to some environmental trigger - say a coiled snake or a growling panther.  The adrenaline response coupled with the skeletal design clearly indicate (to the speakers) that the human body is meant to walk or run away from trouble or toward someone in need of help.  Both of those events - needing to flee or needing to offer help - produce the same adrenaline rush and require the same skeletal response.  You know - your house is on fire.  You run away from it if you're alone, but if you're down the street and your kid is in the house, you run toward it.  We've all done something similar.

I was particularly interested in the part about the research into endurance walking and running.  There are few species with feet who are as uniquely equipped as are humans to explore on foot.  Many animals migrate on a regular basis.  A few animals will explore their immediate neighborhood for a home or food.  But, humans will walk a long way - like from Asia across a land bridge to the North American continent in search of food, shelter, AND, well, adventure.

Adventure is a uniquely human trait.  Curiosity is not limited to humans - just watch a dog or cat with a new box.  But continuing to walk up the mountain JUST to see what's on the other side of the hill IS a human thing.  And, for the vast majority of our time on this planet (however we got here), we've done that exploration, that seeking, that curiosity on foot.  Later, in boats and on the backs of horses, camels, or elephants, we continued the pursuit of curiosity.  But, walking continues to be one of our favorite ways to discover things.  You can't ride a car up Mount Everest.  People still trek down into the Grand Canyon on foot.  The Appalachian Trail remains a great draw for hikers.  New Zealand has walking paths over its entire topography (I'm told).  Getting there by foot continues to be a favored means of human exploration.  Not only is it free (well, except for the cost of shoes) and convenient (we have the means of conveyance at the bottom of our legs), it's great fun to see things (nature, art exhibits, parades) up close - a closeness we can attain only on foot.  Go there!

*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

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