Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Our Best Athletes Today Can't Compare to Ancient Men

>> Thursday, May 25, 2017

I came across this article a few days ago, and I've really been thinking a lot about it since. Some Cambridge University researchers compared people today with people 6-10,000 years ago, and the results are sad, but not that surprising:

If you were to cross paths with one of your farming ancestors (circa 7,500 to 2,000 B.C.), he'd shove you to the ground, kick sand in your face, and jog off into the sunset with your mate slung over his shoulder. And even with somebody else’s partner slung over his other shoulder, you’d probably never catch up to him. Such has been our musculoskeletal decline in only a handful of millennia.

“Even our most highly trained athletes pale in comparison to these ancestors of ours,” says Dr. Colin Shaw of Cambridge University’s Phenotypic Adaptability, Variation and Evolution Research Group. “We’re certainly weaker than we used to be.”

They did bone rigidity tests on laser scanned tibias and femurs from people who lived around 5300 B.C. to 830 A.D. and compared those to modern college students. They found that "the ability among male farmers to move about their environment 7,300 years ago was, on average, at a level near that of today’s student cross-country runners."

This decline in physical activity and bone strength has led to osteoporosis, decrease in fitness, obesity, and myriad other problems and diseases. Ironically, “We have an overabundance of nutrition and we train better,” says Shaw, “but we’re overweight and we’re not challenging our bodies like we used to.”

One of the researchers noted that "the people back then were monsters by comparison. What you see today is quite pathetic." The article wrapped up by saying:

[...] we should eat and live like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, whose meat-heavy diets gave them more muscle mass and enhanced their athletic abilities and performance. Wolf would add in weight training, stretching, and, in particular, cross-country running, because it challenges our bodies in the same ways hunter-gatherers had to navigate uneven terrain and the up-and-down of hills—all of which increased their physical robustness.

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE. Back with some "Friday Funnies" tomorrow. :)


SteveQ 11:22 AM, May 25, 2017  

The average man 6000 years ago was 4 foot 10, 95 pounds and starved to death by age 25. The author of that article is an idiot.

Steve Stenzel 4:52 PM, May 26, 2017  

SteveQ, I didn't do any more research into this, so it could be bunk. But "life expectancy" and "overall fitness" are 2 very different things, so I'm not sure about your argument...

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