Biologist Bernd Heinrich describes the human species as an endurance predator in his book Racing the Antelope: What Animals Can Teach Us about Running and Life. The genes that govern our bodies today evolved hundreds of thousands of years ago, when we basically had to forage for food or by chasing animals across the plains, always in motion. Heirich describes how, even though antelope are among the fastest animals, our ancestors were able to hunt them down by driving them to exhaustion, keeping on their tails until they had no energy left to escape. Our metabolism is so unique, that even after following the antelope for miles, we still had the metabolic capacity to sprint in short bursts for the kill.

Even though most of us don’t have to hunt for food, our genes are still encoded for it, and our brains are meant to direct it. Take away activity, and you’re upsetting a delicate biological balance that has been at work for over  half a million years. Simply put, we need to engage our endurance metabolism to keep our bodies and brains in optimum condition. I don’t know about you, but I want to live on this planet at full capacity, not merely exist. Nature wants us to play and be active. You know it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

PS: You all know that antioxidants are all the rage and a good thing, right? All of the cells in your body and brain are in a constant state of damage and repair. Free radicals are created by cellular respiration and stress, and if left unchecked, can seriously advance disease and the aging process. Antioxidants neutralized these free radicals, and they line the store shelves in health food stores. But recent research suggests that taking them in pill form may not be helpful, and may actually be harmful. The beauty of exercise is that although it in itself creates free radicals, it also sends in a repair and mop-up crew inside the cell to sweep them away. The result? Your cells end up stronger and more resistant to future stress. Nature is very, very smart.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.