100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 36. Exercise

You don’t have to break the world record, or something. Just make sure you exercise constantly. It will make your body healthier and your mind clearer. It’s also one of the simplest and most affordable ways to improve your life.

Your body needs the same level of attention as your soul. Furthermore, your body is the host of your soul, so the best gift you can give to your soul is a healthy host. Believe it or not, exercising is one of the simplest way to stay healthy.

Exercising is also one of the cheapest improvements you can buy for your body: it?s actually free. You can exercise virtually everywhere. You can establish your own routine and keep your own pace. As long as you do it constantly.

Exercising is for your body what reading is for your mind: keeps it fit and alert. 

Why We Need To Exercise

Let me tell you a little story. It’s about a man and a gazelle and it happens sometimes 50.000 years ago.

It’s close to sunset and the man din’t eat for like 4 days. It’s a normal delay, but now he starts to feel hungry. He is slowly approaching a random gazelle, somehow lost from her pack.

And then the man, who can barely stand on his back feet, starts to run towards the gazelle. Needless to say, the gazelle outrun the little man in a matter of minutes. But the man continues. He’s not as fast as the gazelle, nor as fit for the bursts of run as she is. But he is approaching the gazelle again. And again, the gazelle sprints. This time, the gazelle sprints so fast that soon the little man disappears under the line of the horizon. The gazelle is safe.

But just a few minutes later, the small contour of the man appears again profiled on the horizon line. He is running. Much slower than the gazelle, but he is running. And now, the gazelle is starting to feel fear. That contour is not a lion, nor other type of predator that she knows of. And that scares the shit out of her, because never before a gazelle saw something like this.

So this time the gazelle runs so fast that you can barely see her. She runs for a few dozens of minutes, until she gets really tired. A look back and, surprise-surprise, the man is still there. Still far away, but there.

Sometimes this game is played for a few days in a row, or for a week but it always ends the same: the man gets the exhausted gazelle. It’s called persistence hunting. And we, humans, are very, very good at it.

It’s the thing that made some life form way less adapted to environment – the hominid – to climb the food chain up to the very top. There were way more aggressive and powerful predators out there, but what made the man climb and the stay on top, was persistence.

We’re still engineered that way. Our body didn’t change fundamentally during the last 50.000 years. We still have the same groups of muscles needed for persistence hunting and, most important, our brains are still wired that way, somewhere deep down in the amygdala.

And although it looks like we solved the food problem (the fundamental reason for persistence hunting) we still live in a world where persistence hunting is compulsory. We still need to stay focused on projects for weeks if not months. We need to stay on track. We still need to follow the path we chose and stay away from distraction and chase those goals until, some day, exhausted, they will fall in our hands.

So, next time when you wonder why we still need to exercise, next time you hit the snooze button, just think at the man and the gazelle and remember who won.

further reading

The Story Of My First Ultra Marathon

How To Run A Marathon

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