- - The Running Man.
||08-15-2009 05:47 AM
The Running Man.
The Running Man
Sheryl D. Battles
ANT 575 Human Adaptability
February 18, 2004
Revised: March 24, 2004
University of Alabama
Is the human body designed for running; are humans even adapted to being bipedal? As strange as it may seem to scientists of the 21st Century, these questions have been argued for decades. Out of these arguments have come two main hypotheses. Most scientists agree that early hominids, at some point, began to stand and walk in an upright posture. One hypothesis, however, says that humans are ill suited to being bipedal and that they are, at the least, awkward and inefficient. In this hypothesis, manís natural position is similar to a knuckle walking quadrupedal or, at the least, walking in a slow strident gait (e.g., Bartholomew and Birdsell, 1953; Birdsell, 1972; Lovejoy, 1981; Arnold, 2003). The other hypothesis is that early hominids began to walk upright and run as a way to escape predators and to cover long distances in their need to find water, food, and other resources. Those adhering to this hypothesis have argued that humans are well suited to both being bipedal and to endurance running. In this hypothesis, man does not have a fixed natural position, but has adapted different postures for different activities. These varied postures include: a recumbent position during rest, a crawling, quadrupedal position during activities such as hunting, and a bipedal position when walking and running (e.g., Balke and Snow, 1965; Groom, 1971; Carrier, 1984; Devine, 1985).
In this paper, I intend to look at these arguments as they relate to running, and especially endurance running. I will look at the recorded physiological observations of endurance runners, the effects of acculturation to a modern sedentary lifestyle, and the impact of such studies on the modern view of physical fitness and cardiovascular health. As examples of endurance running, I will be looking at the early observations and studies of the Tarahumara of the Sierra Madre.
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