Us vs. Our Ancestors: The fall of physical activity and rise of disease
Our paleolithic ancestors were hunter-gatherers. They hunted their meat and collected their greens. It has been suggested that their energy expenditure derived from physical activity was well over 1,000 kcal/day. Skeletal remains tell us that bone structure was very different due to their introduction to physical activity at a very young age (with increasing time active, the greater one’s bone density). They were a species on the move.
So how do we stack up? Well, unfortunately not well. We spend close to 69% of our waking hours sedentary and only about 15% of Canadian adults meet the physical activity guidelines (150 min. moderate/vigorous exercise/week in at least 10 minute bouts). So we sit a lot and don’t exercise all that much, especially compared to our caveman uncles and aunts.
With such a change in our daily activity patterns, has our genome had time to catch up? Nope. We are still biologically driven to behave like our ancestors. Thus, in a sense, we are going against our biology by not being active, by not utilizing the body as it was built to be utilized.
This week I will explore how this drastic change in our physical activity is associated with a number of modern-day conditions. My main focus will be on the association between physical activity and mental health. I will cover such topics as stress, anxiety, depression, and age (this will touch upon hormonal changes).
The inextricable link between the body and mind is a fascinating one and I can’t wait to start blogging about it! If you have any questions please send them my way.