There are two basic positions with respect to distance running and health. The first is that it's good and natural and part of our evolutionary inheritance - see discussion below. The other that it is damaging. The latter is documented comprehensively by Art Devany in his paper "Death by Exercise". [1] Doug McGuff and John Little complement Art's discussion and go so far as to exclude jogging from their definition of exercise.

The following discussion of running is from the Evolutionary Fitness discussion list:

11 August 2003 from Tom Bridgeland

Interesting clip on TV tonight.  A bushman running down an antelope; according to the script it took him eight hours of jogging. At the end the antelope was too tired to run further, and just lay down waiting for the spear.

11 August 2003 from Ben Balzer

If you ever get your hands on Weston Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, read about the pygmies who kill an elephant.


11 August 2003 from Tim Rowell

I've found it unusual that many proponents of fitness in an evolutionary perspective seem to have a bias against long aerobic efforts and a bias for shorter, high intensity exercises.  It seems clear (at least to me) that the type of effort you describe below was common-place, either for hunting or getting from place to place.  Many native people of the Americas have rich 'long-distance' running traditions:  the Apache, the Tarahumara, and the Chemehuevi, to name a few.  At least on a personal level, I feel safe in extrapolating that tradition backwards in time and thinking that if modern hunter/gatherers found it necessary, so did Paleolithic H/G's.  I try to emulate those longer efforts in my personal fitness plan a few times a month.  Top


12 August 2003 from Keith Thomas

One of the many beautiful, evocative ideas in Paul Shepard's 'Coming Home to the Pleistocene' is on page 21:  "Vultures, in an extensive net of soaring individuals, watch each other, so that around birds descending on a carcass a centrifugal vortex is formed that may draw others from hundreds of miles away. A smart terrestrial scavenger and good runner, watching the vultures from the ground, might cover several miles in time to benefit."

Shepard goes on (page 56) to mention accounts of Native American running which complement those given by Tim.  Top



1. Art's document can be found behind the paywall at his website.    Back to text

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