Animals out in the wild generally tend to be lean, mean, powerfully built for survival, machines. What’s their secret? Weight-lifting with correct technique, boot camps and contorting themselves on machines at the gym? Not quite!
Out in the wild, exercise happens naturally. Natural selection ensures that the strongest animals survive. So how do they become the healthiest and strongest? By doing what they are designed to do. Naturally. For example, a gorilla gets strong by doing gorilla things like climbing trees, roaming the forests and foraging for food. A wasp stays strong by flying around looking for flowers, food and people to annoy! Even a large, ‘fat’ hippopotamus is fit and strong due to the fact that he swims a lot and can walk up to 5 miles a night searching for food. If there was a better way for these creatures to do things, evolution would make it so that they adapted to it. (Note how all these activities end up with the animal getting food – result!).
Essentially, animals use their own body weight to develop their strength and ‘condition’ their bodies. They play, run, scavenge, hunt, mate, swim, climb, eat and then they sleep! All this exercise and natural activity makes sure that the animal has strong and healthy muscles, bones, joints, hearts and is generally a happy, content creature.
Now, us humans are, in fact, an animal. But we don’t live quite so naturally anymore. Just like domesticated dogs and cats who don’t get enough exercise, if we don’t move like nature intended us to, there is a risk of becoming obese, developing heart problems, experiencing physical pain and injury, and having emotional problems including low self-confidence and decreased motivation to even try physical activities resulting in a vicious never-ending spiral.
It seems obvious then that activities which utilise natural body weight and resistance to build up strength would to be the most obvious choice when it comes to exercise. Early yogis developed positions and poses from what they saw around them which is why there are so many yoga positions named after animals. As a therapist, it is often appropriate to encourage children to pretend to be animals to develop specific physical skills and there is a growing trend and availability of workouts based on ‘primal movements’.
In short, animals eat what they are supposed to eat and do what they are supposed to do. Humans don’t and it doesn’t take a scientist to work out who is the healthiest species!
Have a look here for Gumby Legacy’s latest ‘just get moving’ challenge!