Since humans became a bipedal (using only two legs for walking) species, they have continued to evolve over the past six million years or so. However, biological evolution has not managed to keep pace with the cultural evolution of the past few hundred years.
This has resulted in a mismatch between what our bodies have evolved to do and what we find ourselves actually doing in our day to day lives. We spend too much time sat on our backside, inside, and often office-bound.
By looking at our bodies and minds through an evolutionary filter, it is easy to see how un-human like we have become. Luckily, there are simple ways we can revert back. Here, Wildfitness takes you through five easy steps to reconnect with your inner caveman and live as nature intended...
1. Kick your shoes off
Your feet can grip onto logs and stones and keep you grounded a lot more effectively than trainers. There are plenty of nerve endings and muscles in your feet that have become desensitised as a result of wearing shoes. Choosing ‘barefoot’ and low profile shoes is a good start to getting your feet more involved, active and stronger.
2. Wild locomotion
The more you focus on one activity, the more you stress certain parts of the body while neglecting others. If you just run, you don’t demand much of your upper body’s muscles which will atrophise. Similarly, only doing weights in a gym might bulk up your biceps but won’t help your endurance. Wild locomotion brings out the Mowgli in all of us.
Why not try crawling patterns like the gibbon or sideways crab, balancing or vaulting to move freely through any terrain. If you do not know what these are, try and find your local parkour coach or Wildfitness coach who will recommend incorporating varied movement into your fitness programme.
3. Tree climbing
This activity is not limited to under 10s. Outdoor fitness does not require ex-soldier types barking commands at you. Instead take your shoes off and try walking along a fallen tree then jumping off the end of it. Doing this kind of movement helps to awaken dormant muscles that have not been used, perhaps for decades. Being outdoors and staying can stimulate the body and mind in ways that the gym cannot.
It may sound too simple but just taking 10 minutes out of your day to stop can have a tremendous impact. Turn your phone off, find a bench, a tree or just a green space and sit for a while. Close your eyes if this helps, focus on your heartbeat or breathing if this helps too - you will soon work out what works for you.
The important part is to relax and let things flow over you. Work through the muscles in your body from the furrowed brow and tense shoulders to stomach, legs and toes, gradually relaxing each.
5. ‘Eat food, mostly greens, not too much’
Michael Pollen’s approach to eating plays on the ways in which our bodies developed to consume and digest food. Avoid carbohydrates (bread, pasta) as these have been processed in order to exist, they were not born organically from the soil.
Caffeine is a new substance that has been ingrained into our culture and therefore our diet. Your body was not made to digest this produce, eradicating them from your diet will make you feel energised and instantly closer to the wild.
Wildfitness has devised courses that highlight how remarkably adaptable our bodies and minds are throughout our adult life. They incorporate meditative breaks during hikes in the Highlands of Scotland, obstacle courses on the beach in Zanzibar and foraging treks in the mountains of Crete. Closer to civilisation, they run Movement Jams in Hampstead Heath most Saturdays.
Clients return each year for what one calls her MOT. The weeks are intense learning experiences with an overriding feeling of fun whilst enduring a transformative experience that can be taken back to civilisation with them. They provide you the tools and confidence to make small changes to your daily routines that will, over time, make big changes to your overall wellbeing. Click here to find out more.