Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Tarahumara (Searcher)

In class we talked about the assumed ancestral condition, in which we think of early humans to have engaged in hard physical labor, constant work, and neutral or negative energy balance. After looking at the Hazda hunter- gather tribe we concluded that in reality physical activity was a normal part of the ancestral condition, but extreme activity was not. Throughout the Hazda workday, they would take multiple breaks when engaging in strenuous labor, which would ease their efforts. This suggests that our early ancestors were also taking multiple breaks throughout the day, since we care comparing the Hazda to our early ancestors. Maybe the Hazda isn’t the best representation for our early ancestral condition.
Anthropologist, Christopher McDougall in his talk "Are We Born to Run?" talks about the Tarahumara tribe who are known for their ability to run long distances even at old ages, where individuals who are seventy or eighty can run about 156 miles at a time. What is really interesting is that heart disease, cholesterol, cancer, crime, warfare, violence, and clinical depression doesn’t really exist in their population.
He compares them to our early ancestors, such as Homo erectus, who were engaged in persistence hunting, where they would basically run their prey to exhaustion. Since as humans we are better at sweating than other animals, because we can simultaneously run and sweat. McDougall suggests that we have evolved in hunting packs that included women, men, young and old individuals all working together to run our prey down. 
I think it’s really interesting to look at the Tarahumara tribe because we can learn about how our bodies might have been designed to function, which can ultimately help medical science advance and answer some of the vital questions we have about health and wellness.

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