Monday, July 20, 2009

We are conditioned to this inappropriate habitat?

"Conditioning Research".

When I started this blog my idea was to highlight academic research related to athletic conditioning. There you go, (athletic) Conditioning (scientific) Research.

However, there are other blogs that do that much better than I (check Lyle out or - for diet - Stephan). While I have done some courses to teach weightlifting and weight training and have read about the field voraciously for 20 odd years, my formal academic training is in Economics, Management and Philosophy.

This blog has in fact become something else - a repository for all the weird and interesting bits of information that I come across related to health and fitness; ultimately things that are filtered to find that which interests me. That others find these things interesting and useful too is rewarding.

The material also reveals I think my own prejudices and preferences with respect to diet and exercise.

Eating and Moving as you were meant to.

Evolutionary / Primal / Paleo I suppose is an underlying theme in terms of both diet (low carb basically with some intermittent fasting added) and exercise (lots of easy stuff, occasional bouts of high intensity and lots of fun and play). Things like the importance of sleep (do as I say not as I do on that one), social interaction, stress minimisation, proper posture and minimal shoes have also been thrown into the mix - again natural stuff.

One of the things that Erwan of MovNat and Frank of Exuberant Animal got me thinking about was the whole context of modern life - routine work, chronic stresses, lots of sitting, the tyranny of possessions and competition, the lack of a tribe.

We have become what Erwan calls zoo-humans, living in what is actually a foreign habitat. As Frank says, our bodies are designed for a world that no longer exists.


However, we rarely notice that because we have become conditioned to it! We have learned how to respond , how to act, how to think in this habitat. The habitat trains us and conditions us to live within its confines, even though it is often unhealthy and harming us.

Sometimes I think that when we are discussing fitness we are really re-discovering ways of subverting this conditioning. We are identifying ways to escape the zoo and to reinstate hints of a natural habitat - be that through going barefoot, fasting, playing, sprinting or spending time in the hills.

Conditioning Research?

Researching how to provide an antidote to the conditioning of the zoo, civilisation.....

(I am not into the rewilding stuff totally - I like many of the benefits of modern life - but am looking for the balance)

I hope that makes sense......


John Sifferman said...

It makes perfect sense! You're preaching to the choir, Chris - and I've found that my site is taking a similar transition to yours. At first, it was exclusively about strength training - "Real World Strength Training."

As of late, the theme has been changing drastically, out of necessity. What I have been realizing is that people who are generally looking for good strength training and workout programs, really need something much more than that. A strength training program is useless without a lifestyle that is conducive to coincide with it.

The problem is that we are SO FAR REMOVED from naturally physical living, that what we really need is a RE-EDUCATION of the basics of how to become strong, health, happy, and free (part of Erwan's motto).

Most people are in a state of pain, injury or addiction already. Almost everyone has difficulty moving naturally, so very few people can make a jump into pure physical living (hard training, real food, etc.). In many respects, most people need to rehabilitate themselves from the zoo before they can even begin to think about naturally physical living.

Younger people and those who are not already dis-eased may be able to quickly transition into going barefoot, rock climbing, strength training, (etc.) with little ill-effect. But for the rest of us need to find that elusive balance that you refer to.

There are ancient disciplines and practices that have served humanity for generations upon generations. If we could take that knowledge and filter it through the lens of modern research and education, it would be a formula for success. I think that's exactly what you're trying to do here at Conditioning Research.



John Sifferman said...

P.S. Thanks for the link earlier!

Anonymous said...


Makes sense to me. Nice post.

Natural Athlete said...

Good post. Very similar to my own thinking.

The idea of mismatch between our current environment and our genetic "blueprint" as it were is one that has been kicking around in evolutionary psychology for awhile but I don't think we nailed down a good global understanding of the mismatch and its myriad effects.

I think what needs to happen is the creation of a holistic field of human health based on understanding our evolutionary make up.

There is a reason all these lifestyle diseases are developing and we can develop intelligent preventative responses to these trends if we really undertake to understand our adaptions.

Myself I am most interested in movement and how we are adapted to move healthfully and how movement effects our overall health.

Evolutionary fitness and health need to move out of the realm of the arm chair theorizing of a few into a full blown field of research and practice.

Chris said...

Cheers guys

kieraninmotion said...

I've been following Erwan for a good few years now, since I was introduced to his discussions on about Georges Hebert and methode naturelle. I've been gradually changing my life and my outlook on life ever since. That and the spartan health regime changed the way I thought about my body. Keep up the good work, if only to keep challenging yourself.


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