Preface. This is my summary of Herman Pontzer’s 2019 “Evolved to exercise. Unlike our ape cousins, humans require high levels of physical activity to be healthy” in Scientific America. As fossils decline, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll use more muscle power, so get in shape now…
Also, your personality as measured by the Big Five Personality traits will be better if you exercise. Couch potatoes are less conscientious, open, agreeable, and extroverted. The link with exercise was relatively strong. Physical activity predicted personality better than disease burden did (Stephan 2018).
Apes are a lot like us, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos share over 97% of our DNA. But the differences are interesting. Our bodies changed dramatically over the past two million years with a larger brain, invented tools, language, hunted and gathered, and our survival depended on lots of physical activity.
We couldn’t just sit around like chimpanzees and eat fruit all morning, nap, groom, then gorge on figs, hang out with friends, group, another nap, and more fruit and some leaves. Likewise, oranguatans and gorillas are also idle and sedentary, spending 8 to 10 hours resting and then 9 or 10 sleeping, walk about 1.8 miles a day and climb about 330 feet, equal to another mile of walking.
Humans who try to slack off this much risk serious health problems. Without at least 10,000 steps a day, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic disease increases. Sitting at a desk or in front of a TV for long times ias also associated with an increased risk of illness and a shorter life span. Basically, physical inactivity is on par with smoking as a health risk.
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