As most of you know, one of the two books that inspired the creation of Health Warrior was Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Here is a summary of a paper by Dr. Daniel Leiberman, Chair of the Evolutionary Biology Department at Harvard University:

Squirrel

Striding bipedalism is a key derived behavior of hominids that possibly originated soon after the divergence of the chimpanzee and human lineages. Although bipedal gaits include walking and running, running is generally considered to have played no major role in human evolution because humans, like apes, are poor sprinters compared to most quadrupeds (SBE note: squirrels are faster than us – pretty much every animal is).

Here we assess how well humans perform at sustained long-distance running, and review the physiological and anatomical bases of endurance running capabilities in humans and other mammals. Judged by several criteria, humans perform remarkably well at endurance running, thanks to a diverse array of features, many of which leave traces in the skeleton. The fossil evidence of these features suggests that endurance running is a derived capability of the genus Homo, originating about 2 million years ago, and may have been instrumental in the evolution of the human body form.

So, we humans were quite literally born to run. Here are two inspiring excerpts with links to the full books/articles to motivate you this National Running Day. There is a long Native American tradition of distance running, running can give us “Hunter’s Vision” Natural Born Heroes, and even grow our brain cells. In fact, it’s the only way we know to grow those brain cells. Check this out:

“Not so many years ago, the brightest minds in neuroscience thought that our brains got a set amount of neurons, and that by adulthood, no new neurons would be birthed. But this turned out not to be true. Studies in animal models have shown that new neurons are produced in the brain throughout the lifespan, and, so far, only one activity is known to trigger the birth of those new neurons: vigorous aerobic exercise, said Karen Postal, president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology. “That’s it,” she said. “That’s the only trigger that we know about.”

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The other fascinating thing here is where these new cells pop up: in the hippo campus, a region of the brain associated with learning and memory. So this could help explain, at least partially, why so many studies have identified a link between aerobic exercise and improvement in memory. “If you are exercising so that you sweat — about 30 to 40 minutes — new brain cells are being born,” added Postal, who herself is a runner. “And it just happens to be in that memory area.”

Read more here.

Have you ever felt bad after a run?

Let’s lace up!

Shane