The internet: A place where people like to say, “Wrong!” But I liked this article so here you are:
We Evolved to Run – But We’re Doing It All Wrong, National Geographic, 30 July 2017
It’s a review of the book, Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human by Vybarr Cregan-Reid.
- Running allows us to leave the gadgets behind (assuming we can leave the gadgets behind) and connect with our environment. (The author admits “jogging” is a better term but chose “running” because “jogging” conjures pastel tracksuits which he says aren’t “cool.” Jogging is a form of trotting or running at a slow or leisurely pace.)
- Running causes release of pain-killing endorphins.
- The ability to run over long distances gave humans an edge over other animals. Running is encoded in our genes:
- The nuchal ligament stops our heads from tipping forward.
- Flat faces and teeth that are positioned far back in our heads provide a good center of gravity while running.
- Being bipedal means only 40% of our body is exposed to the midday sun, compared to 70% in most mammals. As a result, we’re able to keep cooler.
- We’re awful at sprinting, “but over certain distances, we are better than anything else on the planet.”
- “Most of the benefits from running derive from going very slowly.”
- Running is cheap, makes us fitter, and can de-stress us.
- Treadmills were designed as a form of punishment:
The treadmill was invented in the early 19th century, when penal philosophers were trying to work out a punishment that was just short of the death penalty. So for well over a hundred years the treadmill was something that people were punished with!
- The ability to run is split along class lines:
It’s not easy to find time to run if you’re working two jobs, or if you feel the environment around you isn’t one that welcomes joggers.
About that last point, our former Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, had a plan to build exercise paths in areas that weren’t conducive to walking, like in cities or low-income areas. The money was to come from infrastructure spending that both Obama and Trump said was needed. Unfortunately, President Trump fired Murthy in April (with no stated reason) and hasn’t replaced him yet. So this plan is in limbo.
Let this almost-90-year-old woman demonstrate for you her jogging technique:
He says that running as a slow, meditative practice provides more benefits than viewing it as a sport.
I don’t run or jog anymore, but I do walk every day. And I can attest to it being meditative. There are days that the only way I can get out there is by telling myself to just take a stroll, just around the block. It works!